Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

Northern Ireland: Judgment in landmark legal challenge to Troubles Act – press conference

Amnesty International UK and Phoenix Law press conference - Wednesday 28 February 2024

The Belfast High Court will give its decision in a landmark legal challenge to the UK government’s widely opposed Troubles Act brought by several victims of the Northern Ireland conflict on Wednesday 28 February.

Martina Dillon, John McEvoy and Lynda McManus have challenged the human rights compliance of the Act including its denial of inquests, lack of adequate investigations and ban on civil claims.

A fourth victim, Brigid Hughes, was given leave by the court on the final day of the hearing in November 2023.

The victims are represented by Phoenix Law and supported by Amnesty International, who are also an intervener in the case.

The applicants, lawyers and Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Deputy Director, will all be available to give their reactions and conduct interviews after the decision is announced.

The applicants are:

Martina Dillon whose husband, Seamus, was shot and killed outside the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon on 27 December 1997. The circumstances of the killing suggest the role of collusion. There remain suspected perpetrators who are alive and who have recently been interviewed. The Coroner has opened an inquest into the killing of Seamus Dillon and ordered that the inquest will be an Article 2 inquest. The Coroner heard the first module of the inquest in April 2023 which is now the subject of a public interest immunity process.

John McEvoy was the subject of an attempted murder bid, and narrowly avoided death during a gun attack on those present in the Thierafurth Inn in Kilcoo, County Down on 19 November 1992. Another man present, Peter McCormack, was killed. On 7 October 2022, Mr Justice Humphreys delivered judgment which said that “the new material represents plausible evidence of significant state collusion at the Thierafurth Inn shootings". He found that the state “has failed to carry out” an effective investigation compliant with Article 2 or 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights “within a reasonable time”.

Lynda McManus is the daughter of James McManus (deceased) who was severely injured in a gun attack on the Sean Graham Bookmakers, Ormeau Road, Belfast on 5 February 1992. Five individuals were killed in that attack, and a number of others were injured. Her father was one of those shot during the attack and suffered such severe injury that he was given the last rites at the scene. He also suffered severe psychological injury. In or around February 2022, the Police Ombudsman’s statement in relation to the death (and other connected deaths) identified collusive behaviour by the security forces in relation to this attack and a subsequent flawed investigation into the deaths. Lynda issued a civil claim seeking damages on 17 May 2022.

Brigid Hughes’ husband, Anthony, was killed by state agents in Loughgall on 8 May 1987. In 2001, the European Court of Human Rights found that the investigations until that date into Anthony Hughes’ death had been in breach of article 2. In light of that ruling, the Advocate General for Northern Ireland directed a fresh inquest.

In 2014, the Ministry of Defence issued an apology to Mrs Hughes. 

In 2018, Sir Paul Girvan held that ongoing systemic delays in listing this inquest meant that her article 2 rights were “not being vindicated” and that the ongoing delay “engages her rights under Articles 2 and 8”.

Despite a number of preliminary hearings, the inquest has still not been listed. Ms Hughes was given leave in the case on the final day of the hearing in November 2023.

Details of the press conference

Who: Victims Martina Dillon, Lynda McManus, John McEvoy, and Brigid Hughes along with Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Deputy Director for Northern Ireland, and Solicitors of Phoenix Law, Darragh Mackin, Gavin Booth and Sinead Marmion. 

What: Press conference and photo opportunity outside court

Where: Belfast High Court, Royal Courts of Justice, Belfast, BT1 3JF      

When: Wednesday 28 February. Photo opportunity of ‘walk in’ to court 9:30am. Court begins 10:15am**. Press conference will be outside court immediately after the judgment is handed down.

**Court timings can change. Please consult NI court lists for up-to-date information.

View latest press releases