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The House of Lords and the Northern Ireland Conflict – A Sequel

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This article begins by commenting on an analysis undertaken by the late Stephen Livingstone of 13 cases relating to the troubles in Northern Ireland decided by the House of Lords between 1969 and 1993. It then attempts to repeat the analysis in respect of 12 such cases decided between 1994 and 2005. Areas of law arising for consideration during both periods include the rules on the use of lethal force, aspects of substantive criminal law and criminal procedure and the rights of persons arrested or imprisoned. The more recent cases also raise fundamental questions concerning the status and meaning of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The article concludes that there has been a sea-change in the way the Law Lords have handled the Northern Irish cases. From treating them in a way which might have suggested a built-in bias in favour of police, army and government perspectives, they have moved to analysing the competing arguments in the light of more modern approaches to statutory interpretation, the rule of law and human rights.
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Keywords: Northern Ireland; emergency law; human rights; judicial activism; statutory interpretation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of Law at Queen's University Belfast

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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