Environmental

Our Environment Law team has conducted and advised on litigation both domestically and internationally. Recently, we have been involved in providing advice and representation to individuals, NGOs and private companies in a variety of environmental law areas. Our team have advised on a variety of issues varying from climate change, fishing conservation and licensing, and proposed planning pertaining to wind farms and renewable energy turbines. 

Our Team has specific expertise in the respective obligations relating to the environmental and human rights obligations imposed on public authorities arising out of their actions. 

We currently represent the applicant in the current challenge to the Dalradian Goldmine proposed for Greencastle. We are also currently acting for a number of the interested parties in the ongoing appeals processes relating to the proposed planning of wind farms and wind turbines. 

Director

Darragh Mackin

Trainee Solicitor

Harry Robinson

Director

Claire McKeegan

Director

Darragh Mackin

Darragh Mackin has been described as ‘a rising star on the international legal scene’ (Irish Times) and a ‘Champion of the Cause’ (The Parchment).  In July 2016, Darragh was the first ever Ireland based Lawyer to be nominated, and in turn to win, an award at the prestigious London Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards.  

He has developed a specialist practice in Human Rights, Public Law, Actions against Public Authorities and International law.  He continues to appear in some of the most complex Inquests and Inquiries in Ireland, acting for the majority of the families in the Stardust Inquest, appearing in the Ballymurphy Inquest, the family of Morgan Barnard who was killed in the Greenville tradegy, and securing the public inquiry into the activities of Ireland’s most notorious paedophile, Bill Kenneally. 

He regularly advises individuals and companies both domestically and internationally, with a particular specialism in data protection and privacy.  Darragh recently advises on the challenges emanating from the misuse of social media, GDPR, and an individual’s ‘right to be forgotten’ online. 

He has acted in cases at all levels including in the Supreme Courts in London and Dublin, The European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Special Procedures.  He has acted for both individuals, companies and some of the most well known non-governmental organisations including Amnesty International, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and Extinction Rebellion. He has been instructed and advised on cases all around the World, including the USA, Spain, Sri Lanka and Malawi. He also appears on behalf of a number of Basque Prisoners currently pending consideration by the European Court of Human Rights.  

Darragh was recently involved in advising the NI Taxi Drivers group which resulted in one of the largest payouts in Northern Ireland history of £16.7million of financial support for Taxi Drivers.   He is also currently instructed in a multi million pound claim in the Dublin Commercial Court arising out of the approach by insurance companies to indemnifying hotels during the Covid 19 pandemic.

In addition to practice, Darragh is an associate lecturer of Public Law at the University of Ulster and has delivered a number of guest lectures at Cambridge University, Trinity University, Queens University Belfast, and DCU.   

NOTABLE CASES

HUMAN RIGHTS & PUBLIC LAW

  1. Sarah Ewart & Amnesty International (The Abortion Litigation)

Darragh acted on behalf of Sarah Ewart and Amnesty International in the seminal judicial review challenge brought against the abortion laws in Northern Ireland.  In the landmark decision, the Court ruled that the Abortion Laws in Northern Ireland were incompatible with Human Rights. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here

Darragh was also labelled The Times ‘Lawyer of the Week’ for his work on this case.  The article can be read here

The Judgment can be accessed here

  1. The Hooded Men (Ireland v UK)

Darragh was instructed by a number of the Hooded Men in the application for revision of the Ireland v United Kingdom 1978 decision by the European Court of Human Rights on torture.  In addition, Darragh acted in the landmark judicial review challenge Re Francis McGuigan [2019] which challenged the failure to conduct an effective human rights compliant investigation.  The Court of Appeal ruled that it was unlawful not to investigate the allegations of torture, and as a result, an independent Police Force has now been tasked to investigate the treatment of the Hooded Men. This case is due to be heard by the London Supreme Court in June 2021. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here:  CNNRTEBBC, and the Journal

The Judgment can be accessed here

      3. The Glenanne Series (Re Edward Barnard & Others)

 The Glenanne Gang were responsible for more than 120 murders between the years 1972 – 1978 in the area commonly referred to as ‘the murder triangle’.  Darragh initiated Judicial Review Proceedings against the Chief Constable of the PSNI for the failure to conduct an overarching investigation into the allegations of state collusion arising out of the Glenanne Gang murders.  In the seminal case of Re Edward Barnard, the Court of Appeal ruled that it was unlawful not to investigate the evidence of state collusion.  As a result, the independent police team Operation Kenova headed by Jon Boutcher has now been appointed to investigate the state collusion in the 120 murders.   

The relevant media footage can be accessed here.

  1. Loughgall (Re Brigid Hughes)

Instructed by the Loughgall Truth & Justice Campaign and the families bereaved as a result of the shootings at Loughgall on 8th May 1987.  Darragh was instructed before the High Court and Court of Appeal in respect of a decision taken by the Secretary of State that the decision to grant an Inquest into Loughgall was ‘National Security Sensitive’.  In September 2015, the Advocate General announced that a fresh inquest was to be held into the fatal shootings at Loughgall.  As a result of a political stalemate, the necessary funding for the legacy inquest system was withheld.  In an unprecedented decision the Court ruled that the then former first Minister Arlene Foster MLA had acted unlawfully in failing to release the funding and quashed the decision.  After initiating contempt of Court proceedings, the necessary funding was released to the Coronial Service for Legacy Inquests.  

The relevant media footage can be accessed here:

  1. Aidan McAnespie

Darragh is instructed by the family of Aidan McAnespie who was murdered as a result of a shot fired from a British army sanger in 1988.  On June 2018, on foot of an application lodged on behalf of the family, a decision was taken to prosecute David Holden for the killing.  In February 2023, this resulted in the first prosecution of a British Soldier post the Good Friday Agreement.  

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here.

The Judgment can be accessed here:

  1. Fergal McFerran – The Brexit Case (‘The Peoples Challenge’ – Gina Miller No.1)

In 2016, Gina Miller initiated legal action challenging whether the Royal Prerogative can override or undo Acts of Parliament.  The challenge arose out of the controversial use of the prerogative to execute Brexit, and to leave the EU.  A group of individuals including two British citizens living in France, a Gibraltarian national, a Welsh citizen and Fergal McFerran, president of NUS-USI formed the ‘peoples challenge’.  Darragh was instructed by Fergal McFerran.  The Supreme Court held by a majority, that the UK Government could not initiate withdrawal from the European Union without an act of parliament.  This lase has been dubbed by legal commentators as one of the most significant constitutional cases of the decade.      

The relevant media footage can be viewed here and here

  1. The Covid 19 Schools Challenge (Re JR105)

Darragh was instructed by the parent of a child who was forced to attempt school during the Coronavirus (or Covid 19) pandemic.  It was argued that the child suffered underlying health conditions and therefore any attendance at school would have put her life at risk.  The respondents confirmed that the child no longer had to attend school, and a decision was subsequently issued by the Minister of Education to close all schools in light of covid-19. 

The case was widely reported in the media.  The footage can be viewed herehere and here.

8. Re Brian Turley [2020] 

Darragh acted for the applicant in the landmark challenge to the Executive Office and Secretary of State over their failure to implement and fund the Legacy Victims Pension.  The Court of Appeal ruled that the Executive Office was under a legal duty to fund the Legacy pensions scheme.  

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here.

INQUESTS & INQUIRIES

  1. The Stardust Inquest

Darragh acts for the families bereaved as a result of the tragic fire at the Stardust Nightclub on Valentine’s Day 1981.  In 2019, he made an application to the Attorney General in Dublin for a fresh Inquest into the deaths.  He cited the fact that the investigations to date were inadequate and did not comply with human rights standards.  In a landmark decision, the Attorney General ordered a fresh inquest to which is scheduled to begin in 2021.  Darragh’s involvement in the campaign was described by some commentators as the ‘sea-change’ in the families’ forty year campaign for truth and justice.  

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here:

  1. The Glenanne Gang

Darragh also acts in the ongoing Inquest into the murder of Elizabeth McDonald at the Step Inn, Keady in 1976, in which the Court has been asked to examine the wider systemic allegations of state collusion.  In tandem with the above, Darragh acts in an ongoing group action civil litigation for those families bereaved and injured as a result of the Glenanne Series.      

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. The Hickson Inquiry

Darragh acts for the victims of Ireland’s most notorious paedophile, Bill Kenneally.  In 2018, he secured the opening of a public inquiry into the cover up and failings by the state relating to the activities of Mr Kenneally.  Darragh is now instructed by the victims in the ongoing Inquiry currently being held in Dublin. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here:

  1. The Greenvale Tragedy

Darragh is instructed on behalf of the family of Morgan Barnard in the ongoing proceedings relating to the tragedy at the Greenvale Nightclub on St Patrick’s Day.  He acts for the family in respect of the ongoing criminal proceedings into the police officers who attended at the scene. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

INTERNATIONAL

  1. Ibrahim Halawa

Darragh acted for the Irish Teenager, Ibrahim Halawa, who was detained whilst on holiday in Cairo, Egypt.  Ibrahim was held in detention in excess of 3 years awaiting trial and faced the death penalty had he been convicted.  Darragh acted for Ibrahim in seeking his return to Ireland, making submissions before the EU Parliament, the African Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations.  In October 2017 Ibrahim Halawa was acquitted of all charges before the Egyptian Courts and repatriated to Ireland. 

Media coverage of the UN Intervention is available here.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and  here

  1. Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith was a former Irish army soldier who travelled to Syria, and was eventually detained by the Turkish authorities as a suspected ISIS fighter.  Darragh acted for Lisa in successfully securing her and her daughter’s repatriation to Ireland.  The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & Counter Terrorism intervened in Lisa’s case.  Lisa was the first alleged ISIS bride ever to be returned to Ireland. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here

Lisa Smith was Darragh was instructed by Lisa and her family in seeking her repatriation to Ireland.  On foot of published concerns by the United Nations, In December 2019 Lisa and her two-year-old daughter were repatriated to Ireland.  

  1. Carles Puigdemont

 In 2018 Darragh was one of the lawyers who travelled to Brussels to meet the then president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont and provided advice and assistance in respect of his ongoing bid against the extradition proceedings issued by the state of Spain. 

  1. The Tamil Litigation v PSNI

Darragh acted in a ground-breaking case in which a Tamil widow against the PSNI as the successor to the RUC for damages as a result of the murder of 10 of her relatives who were massacred by Sri Lankan’s Police in 1986.  The basis of the case arose out of documents uncovered which demonstrated that the RUC had played a role in the training of ‘the Special Task Force’ in Sri Lanka. 

The relevant media footage can be viewed here and here.  The Tamil Guardian also covered the story here.

In addition, Darragh acts for Mr Jeyasundaram, a teacher, who was convicted in Sri Lanka for involvement with the Tamil Tigers.  He challenges the safety of the conviction on the premise that the confession was obtained by torture, and that the trial process lacked the relevant safeguards required under international law.  The relevant media footage can be accessed here.  

  1. Keyu & Others v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs & Another UKSC 2014/0203

This case is more commonly known as the Batang Kali Massacre case.  Darragh acted for the interveners the Pat Finucane Centre & Rights Watch UK, two Non-Governmental Organisations whom are directly involved in ensuring human rights compliance in respect of the legacy of the past. Both interveners sought to make representations to the Court in respect of the applicability of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to life) and its application in the context of ‘the troubles’.  The Attorney General for Northern Ireland also intervened in this case. 

Media coverage of this case is available here

MEDIA, DEFAMATION AND DATA PROTECTION

  1. Phil Miller v PSNI (2020)

Darragh acts for the renowned investigative journalist Phil Miller in an appeal against the Information Commissioner to uphold the refusal by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (“PSNI”) to publish a report authored by Jack Morton from 1973, relating to MI5 and the structure of the RUC.

  1. Re Fine Point Films(2019)

Darragh acted for the International media organisations, Index on Censorship and the English PEN in their role in the successful judicial review challenge to a search warrant imposed on two investigative journalists in Northern Ireland.

  1. OH v Google LLP (2019)

Darragh acted for the Plaintiff in one of the first ‘right to be forgotten’ on foot of the Google Spain ruling.  Google conceded and took steps to remove all images and webpages that appeared in respect of our client relating to a previous criminal trial they were involved. 

4. Facebook Moderators

Darragh was recently instructed to act for a number of individuals in their quest for greater protections for those who are tasked with removing harmful content from Facebook and other social media platforms. He is now instructed in an International Claim seeking compensation for those victims.

 

Trainee Solicitor

Harry Robinson

Harry is a paralegal at Phoenix Law who supports the public law, inquests and inquiries department with a specific focus on environmental actions and mental health challenges. 

Harry has been involved in a number of judicial review challenges to decisions made by public authorities regarding the environment, and in particular, challenges involving the human rights act in the context of protecting the environment. 

Harry has appeared in some of the most high-profile environmental law challenges in this jurisdiction, including the Mullaghglass Landfill challenge, the challenge to the Dalradian Goldmine planning permission, and a potential challenge against the Government for their failure to reduce harmful emissions within Belfast City Centre. 

He has been involved in an extensive number of challenges of decisions which permit environmentally harmful development or activity, including activity which directly harms the health of local populations.  These cases involve complex legal matters including principles derived from European Union law and often technical scientific evidence. 

Harry also appears in a number of high-profile Inquests and related judicial review challenges.  He has a particular focus on state responsibility inquests, which include deaths in custody and mental health institutions.   He is part of the Team that represents the Stardust Families who were bereaved as a result of the Stardust Fire in Dublin on Valentine’s Day in 1981. 

With a background in volunteering in the charity sector on issues regarding mental health, Harry regularly appears in representing victims before the Mental Health Tribunal. 

Notable Cases

Re McCarthy & McAleenon – Challenge to emissions produced from Mullaghglass Landfill (Belfast High Court) 

The Stardust Inquest – Dublin Coroner’s Court 

Re McGuigan – Challenge to the refusal to perform an exhumation (Belfast High Court) 

Re Tracey – Challenge to Dalradian Goldmine (Belfast High Court) 

Re Kevin Loughran – Environmental Challenge (Court of Appeal, Belfast) 

Director

Claire McKeegan

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