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Judge refuses judicial review request made by loyalist Jamie Bryson over bonfire

The judge said there was no justifiable practical purpose for hearing a judicial review.

Image: PA

A JUDGE AT the Belfast High Court has refused to grant leave for a judicial review into a decision by two Stormont ministers to launch a failed legal action against the police.

Mr Justice Scoffield said the application for judicial review made by loyalist activist Jamie Bryson was “academic” as the legal dispute between the PSNI and the ministers was now over.

In July last year, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey launched proceedings against the police, challenging the PSNI decision not to intervene to assist in the removal of a contentious “Eleventh Night” bonfire in the loyalist Tiger’s Bay area of north Belfast.

The case was rejected by a High Court judge in a late-night emergency hearing days before the bonfire was due to be lit.

Bryson, who represented the bonfire builders in last year’s dispute, had sought a judicial review against the two ministers, contending they should have secured the approval of the wider Stormont Executive before taking legal action against the PSNI.

Justice Scoffield, ruling on whether to grant leave for a full hearing, said the applicant had established an arguable case that the ministers had acted unlawfully.

However, he said as the ministers had ultimately failed in their legal action, and the bonfire had long since been lit, there was no justifiable practical purpose for hearing a judicial review.

The fire had been the source of escalating tensions amid claims from residents in the nearby nationalist New Lodge that it has been built too close to the sensitive community interface.

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Nationalist residents claimed they were living in fear and had been attacked by missiles thrown by loyalist bonfire builders.

Loyalists had rejected suggestions the siting of the bonfire was deliberately provocative and have accused nationalists and republicans of whipping up tensions in an effort to deny them what they view as a legitimate celebration of their culture.

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