Sixmilecross man reaches 80,000 crowd-funding target to challenge DUP-Tory dea

Thursday, 14 September 2017

A mental health worker from Sixmilecross has reached a crowd-funding target of 80,000 to pay for a legal challenge against the Government's parliamentary deal with the Democratic Unionist Party.
Green Party candidate in recent elections for the Assembly and Westminister, Ciaran McClean, claims the confidence and supply arrangement will undermine the peace process.
Mr McClean polled 427 votes in the West Tyrone constituency in June. He came sixth among seven candidates in a race won by Sinn Fein's Barry McElduff with 22,060 votes.
He confirmed this week that the High Court had decided that the first stage of a legal challenge against the deal will initially be heard at the Divisional Court in London on October 26. His challenge is at the first stage of a process that a judicial review application must pass through.
"It's quite significant that a special court will have to be arraigned for this, it's not the normal run of things. My crowd-funding just crossed the 80,000 mark this week, so that gives an indication of the level of feeling throughout the UK. Everyone is watching this," he said.
Accusing the Government of "buying DUP votes" to hold on to power, Mr McClean argues that it has contravened a commitment laid out in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to act with "rigorous impartiality".
The parliamentary deal saw the DUP's 10 MPs agree to support the Conservatives' minority government in a series of key Westminster votes. In exchange, Northern Ireland's largest party secured 1 billion of new Treasury investment in the region. He said the confidence and supply arrangement was in "direct violation" of the Good Friday peace accord.
"The deal flies in the face of the Good Friday Agreement, under which the Government is obligated to exercise its power with 'rigorous impartiality' on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions," he said.
"The Government is threatening hard-won peace with their pact with the reactionary DUP."
Mr McClean's news comes in the same week that it emerged that Parliament will need to approve the release of 1bn in funding for Northern Ireland promised to the DUP by Theresa May to secure its support after the general election, the government has conceded.
Challenged by the campaigner Gina Miller about the legal basis for releasing the funds, which have not yet been made available, the Treasury solicitor, who heads the Government Legal Department, said it "will have appropriate parliamentary authorisation", adding: "No timetable has been set for the making of such payments."
Mr McClean said both his and the case being taken by Ms Miller were going to be heard on the same day.
Miller, who won a Supreme Court challenge against the government earlier this year, forcing it to hold a parliamentary vote before triggering the formal Brexit vote, said May should have made clear from the outset that a vote in parliament would be necessary.
Mr McClean said he was delighted with the way things have gone to date.
"My case is starting to gain momentum just as the Tories are trying everything to grab power and diminish democracy in the House of Commons. There aren't a lot of avenues open to challenge the Government but my case is one of them."
He added this wasn't a win or lose case. It was already a huge success to get this far and showed the level of support that was out there. It could even set legal precidents for the future.
"We've had so much down-in-the-mouth politics in Northern Ireland recent and it's scaring potentially good people from taking part in politics so I'm hoping this will prove we can all make a difference. My action isn't party political. It has been taken on behalf of everyone who voted for the Good Friday Agreement so I can't say it's a Green Party thing because everybody voted for it across the community.
"I lived all my life through the Troubles and I've seen some things I don't want my children to see and I think that's worth defending. I don't want to see us going back to the way we were," he said.
The DUP has insisted the Westminster arrangement will provide stability for the UK at a time of uncertainty, while offering much-needed investment for the whole of Northern Ireland.
The Government has consistently rejected any suggestion its impartiality on Northern Ireland issues has been compromised, insisting that its role in political negotiations at Stormont is entirely separate from the House of Commons deal.


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