The British Republicans

Republican Disenfranchisement

Progress for Democracy in Northern Ireland

In one part of the "kingdom" there has been progress. Queen's Counsel (lawyers appointed to senior rank by the British government) in Northern Ireland have won the right to do their jobs without swearing allegiance to queen Liz Windsor or even "undertaking to serve her."

In 1995 the government agreed that an oath of loyalty to the monarch should no longer be required of QCs in that part of the UK. Instead "Lord" Derry Irvine, the justice minister, required aspiring QCs to make a declaration that they would well and truly serve queen Liz. For barristers Seamus Treachy and Barry MacDonald to do even that was to demean themselves. They refused and in 1999 they stayed away from the ceremony at which other barristers made the declaration. Instead they applied for judicial review, with the support of the Bar Council. The two lawyers argued that the declaration was contrary to the Good Friday Agreement, an affront to their political sensibilities and discriminatory.

The court held that Irvine was required to consult the bar council and supreme court judges in northern Ireland before imposing such a requirement. Irvine subsequently rescinded his ruling. He said that he had believed that the there had been consultation. Treachy and MacDonald duly became the first two "Queen's Counsel" who refuse to serve the queen! Instead they swore to serve all whom they may be lawfully called upon to serve.

You can read more at the RTE website.

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