The Omagh man who has begun a legal challenge to the proposed DUP deal with the Tories has said that he will not be walking away from the challenge until either the DUP-Tory talks collapse or he has exhausted court options.
Solicitors for Ciaran McClean, a mental health worker and Green Party candidate in the general election, this week served a letter before action on the government.
London solicitors Edwin Coe LLP sent the letter “in relation to the decision by the Prime Minister to seek to enter into an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party so that the DUP would support the Government in votes of confidence and on supply votes”.
The letter – which is a first step towards court proceedings – sets out the grounds of complaint and threatens judicial review proceedings in the event of a DUP-Tory deal being struck.
In a statement, Edwin Coe said that the basis of the claim is that any agreement between the government and DUP will be in breach of the Good Friday Agreement under which the government undertook to exercise its power in Northern Ireland ““with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions”.
The solicitors’ said that any DUP-Tory agreement “is unlawful because it breaches the word of the Good Friday Agreement, it compromises the Government’s independence and breaches the reasonable expectation of the citizens of Northern Ireland, including Mr McClean, that the Government will comply with its terms”.
Mr McClean said that he had “campaigned for the Good Friday Agreement and remain absolutely committed to it” but was “horrified” when he heard that “the Government was thinking of getting into bed with the DUP so that it could survive crucial votes in the House of Commons”.
When asked if he was prepared to pursue his case all the way to the Supreme Court, Mr McClean told the News Letter: “I wouldn’t have taken this case unless I was committed to it...I’m not going to walk away at any time. The only reason why I would cease to be involved in the process is if the [talks] stopped and the DUP didn’t go into government with the Tories.”
When asked about the funding of the case, he said: “I think that the majority of people in Northern Ireland - and indeed in the rest of the UK - would be happy to see the Good Friday Agreement defended; how they support that financially through crowdfunding or whatever I couldn’t tell you.”
Mr McClean said that the case was a “sincere effort on my part” to try to defend the Agreement.
• Sam McBride, page 8