Legal challenge lodged in Belfast against Troubles legacy bill

Judicial review proceedings launched on behalf of six bereaved families against contentious legislation which is opposed by Irish Government

A legal challenge has been launched against the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill on behalf of six families whose relatives were killed by either British soldiers, RUC officers or loyalist paramilitaries.

The challenge to the law dealing with how the UK government handles Troubles-era cases is being led by Madden & Finucane Solicitors.

The Belfast-based legal firm said it had lodged judicial review proceedings with Northern Ireland’s High Court “in which we are challenging the lawfulness of this legislation and its compatibility with international human rights standards”.

The legislation, which was passed into law this week and is awaiting the signature of King Charles III, is almost universally opposed with all five main political parties in the North, relatives of those bereaved by the Troubles, victims and survivors’ groups, human rights organisations and the Irish Government opposing it.


Those who oppose it say will block bereaved families from ever receiving either truth or justice and is in breach of the UK government’s international human rights obligations.

Particularly controversial is the provision on amnesties, which opponents feel hands the power to perpetrators rather than victims, with some believing it is designed to protect former British soldiers.

The High Court proceedings have been lodged on behalf of families whose relatives were killed by British soldiers, the RUC and loyalist paramilitaries.

“We will also be lodging applications for families directly affected by this legislation to the ECHR in Strasbourg over the coming weeks,” the solicitors said in a statement.

The six family members on whose behalf the legal challenged has been lodged are:

Billy Thompson, son of Kathleen Thompson, who was shot dead by a member of the Royal Green Jacket regiment in Derry on November 6th 1971.

Jonathan McKerr, son of Gervaise McKerr, who was shot dead near Lurgan on November 11th 1982 when members of an elite firearms unit of the RUC fired more than 100 rounds into a car he was driving, killing him and two passengers.

Una Eakin, widow of Gerard Casey, who was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries on April 4th 1989 in Rasharkin, north Antrim.

Linda Hewitt, sister of Sam Marshall, who was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries on March 7th 1990 in Lurgan.

Teresa Jordan, mother of Pearse Jordan, shot dead by the RUC on the Falls Road, Belfast on November 25th 1992.

Eamon Cairns, father of Gerard and Rory Cairns, who were murdered in their home by the mid-Ulster UVF in October 1993.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor