A JUDGE at the High Court in Belfast has refused to allow judicial review of the decision by two Stormont ministers to take legal action against the police.
Judge Scoffield said the application for judicial review by loyalist activist Jamie Bryson was “academic” because the legal dispute between the PSNI and ministers was now over.
In July last year, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey sued police, challenging the PSNI’s decision not to step in to help put out a fire of contentious ‘Eleventh Night’ joy in the loyalist area of Tiger’s Bay north of Belfast.
The case was dismissed by a High Court judge at an emergency hearing late at night, days before the bonfire was lit.
Bryson, who represented bonfire builders in last year’s dispute, had sought a judicial review against the two ministers, saying they should have obtained the approval of Stormont’s wider executive before taking legal action. legal action against the PSNI.
Judge Scoffield, ruling on whether to grant leave for a full hearing, said the claimant 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 been lit, there was no justifiable practical purpose for hearing a judicial review.
The fire has sparked escalating tensions amid claims by residents of the nearby nationalist New Lodge that it was built too close to the sensitive community interface.
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Nationalist residents claimed they lived in fear and had been attacked by missiles launched by loyalist bonfire builders.
Loyalists had dismissed suggestions that the location of the bonfire was deliberately provocative and accused Nationalists and Republicans of stoking tensions in a bid to deny them what they see as a legitimate celebration of their culture.