Phoenix law provides a specialist service in the area of fraud, financial and business crime. This service includes both the defending of criminal allegations of fraud and prosecuting those involved in fraud by way of civil litigation seeking damages for the loss sustained.
Our Team are currently instructed in the ongoing complex HMRC Trials commonly known as Operation Concentric involving the prosecution of 35 defendants for offences allegedly relating to the construction sector estimated to be in the region of £7million, and Operation Yamaha involving the prosecution of 12 defendants for allegations of carousal fraud arising out of VAT payments, estimated to be in the region of £35million. In addition, Team Phoenix are currently instructed in two separate sets of litigation in which we act for two companies seeking damages as a result of their status as victims of fraud estimated to be in the region of £5million, arising out of activity in Dublin.
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 47 of the families in the Stardust Inquest, appearing in the Ballymurphy Inquest, the family of Morgan Barnard who was killed in the Greenville tragedy, and for the victims in the the child abuse Bill Kenneally public inquiry.
He regularly advises individuals and companies both domestically and internationally, with a particular specialism in data protection and privacy. Darragh recently advises on reputation management and 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, France, Sri Lanka, Malawi and the Cayman Islands. He also appears on behalf of a number of Basque prisoners currently pending consideration by the European Court of Human Rights.
Darragh was instructed for the NI Taxi Drivers group which resulted in the payment of £16.7million to NI Taxi Drivers, one of the largest in NI history. 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.
HUMAN RIGHTS & PUBLIC LAW
Sarah Ewart & Amnesty International (The Abortion Litigation)
Darragh has appeared in many of the seminal human rights cases in recent times in Ireland. He acted for Sarah Ewart and Amnesty International to which saw the law changed in respect of abortion in Northern Ireland. Darragh was also labelled The Times ‘Lawyer of the Week’ for his work on this case.
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 to which the Supreme Court determined that the decision not to investigate was unlawful. Following this decision, the Chief Constable formally apologised to the Hooded Men.
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 Judgment can be accessed here:
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.
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:
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 Covid 19 Schools Challenge (Re JR105)
Darragh was instructed by the parent of a child who was forced to attend school during the initial phases of 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.
Legacy Pensions (Re Brian Turley )
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.
INQUESTS & INQUIRIES
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ciaran Moynagh is an experienced Solicitor Advocate with a diverse caseload that points to his passion for human rights & equality, family & matrimonial law and specialist criminal defence.
Ciaran is a multi-award-winning solicitor with a reputation for both challenging public bodies and the decisions they make, and also representing the interests of his clients in family courts and criminal trials.
Ciaran acted in the same sex marriage legal challenge known as Petition X and also advised on the legislation ultimately used to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. As part of the Love Equality Consortium he was instrumental in the campaign for equal marriage including talks with NI’s political leaders. b
He represented the couple, Laura Lacole and Eunan O’Kane in the legal challenge which secured the right for couples in Northern Ireland to register humanist marriages. Other successful judicial reviews resulted in greater protection of the privacy of transgender people in the UK and access to fertility treatment for same sex couples.
Ciaran also acts for a number of charities mainly around potential interventions into legal challenges. He was instructed by the AIRE Centre in an immigration case before the European Court of Justice as well as for the Royal College of Midwives in JR 76 which challenged the prosecution of a mother for purchasing abortion pills online.
More recently he has advised and assisted with an application by Mr Lee to the European Court of Human Rights in the internationally debated matter of Lee -v- Asher’s Bakery, the so-called “gay cake” case.
Ciaran also has a passion for family and matrimonial law and regularly appears before Family Courts at all tiers. He is the Northern Ireland representative of the UK & Ireland LGBT Family Law Institute as well as a member of the Northern Ireland Children Order Panel. In 2021 he was made a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers as well as being added to the solicitor panel for the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency. In his family work, Ciaran deals with private law contact / residence disputes that include complex issues such as emotional abuse commonly called parent alienation. He also regularly deals with public law family matters that have social services involved due to allegations of abuse, neglect or non-accidental injury.
Ciaran has specialist knowledge and expertise on same sex family’s creation and representation. Ciaran is one of the few lawyers in NI giving expert advice on both domestic and international surrogacy arrangements.
In a criminal context, Ciaran has been a long-standing member of the Belfast duty solicitor scheme. He has particular expertise in cases involving online legal issues, for example, social media harassment, revenge porn and so-called ‘paedophile hunters’ stings. Ciaran retains a criminal defence caseload exclusively dealing with complex fraud, terrorism and sexual offences providing robust representation right from police station right through to the Crown Court.
MEMBERSHIPS & POSITIONS
- Ciaran holds practice certificates and advanced advocacy certificates for Northern Ireland and England & Wales enabling him to litigate in both jurisdictions.
- Member of the Children Order Panel in Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency solicitor panel.
- NI representative for the UK & Ireland LGBT Family Law Institute.
- Ciaran is an Associate at Ulster University and CPD Training UK Limited and lectures regularly on equality, judicial review and advocacy matters.
- Trustee of The Rainbow Project and Community Foundation Northern Ireland.
- Board of Governor at St Joseph’s College, Belfast.
- Founding member of NI Lawyers with Pride.
- Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers
- Nominated for National Diversity Award Feb 2020
- Outstanding Contribution Award by The Rainbow Project 2019
- GNI Legal Representative of the Year & Editor’s Choice Award 2019
- Humanist of the Year for work on termination of pregnancy and same sex marriage 2018
- Belfast Pride LGBT Friendly Business of the Year 2016
HUMAN RIGHTS & PUBLIC LAW
- AS Judicial Review  NIQB 89 – Trans Privacy
This case related to a trans man having information inserted on his marriage certificate, a public document, that could reveal his gender history. We successfully secured restriction of the document during the course of proceedings and he succeeded, and Court determined it was a breach of right to privacy.
Full judgment here
2. AS2 Judicial Review  NIQB 31 – No Timely Remedy
On foot of the above judgment delivered in 2016, the client waited for the Government to issue a new marriage certificate to comply with the judgment. Given their failure to issue in a timely matter, fresh proceeding issued in 2018 seeking the remedy and damages. The Government issued the marriage certificate during the course of proceedings and made an undisclosed ex-gratia payment. Proceedings were dismissed on foot of the desired result for the client.
Full Judgment here
3. Humanist Marriage Judicial Review  NIQB 55 &  NICA 25
Model Laura Lacole and footballer Eunan O’Kane wanted to have a legally recognised humanist marriage. They did not want to have a secret or additional civil ceremony that was meaningless to them. Instead they want a humanist celebrant to conduct their humanist ceremony with close family and friends. The High Court ruled in the couple’s favour declaring humanist marriage was a manifestation of their belief and should be given equivalence to the privileges afforded to religious celebrants and ceremonies. The Attorney General appealed, and the couple again succeeded before the Court of Appeal. They had the first ever legally recognised NI humanist ceremony in 2018.
4. Application by Laura Lee for Judicial Review
Laura Lee, sex worker and advocate initiated judicial review proceedings challenging the enactment of legislation that made Northern Ireland the only part of the UK where people can be convicted for paying for sex. She claimed this breach her right to privacy, work and put sex workers in greater danger. The case was granted leave but Ms Lee sadly passed away before full hearing.
Media Coverage here
5. Gareth Lee -v- The United Kingdom- European Court of Human Rights
Gareth Lee the plaintiff in the widely reported ‘gay cake’ case was successful in his discrimination claim at Belfast County Court and the NI Court of Appeal. However, the UK Supreme Court held in favour of the Bakery saying Gareth did not suffer discrimination. An Application to the ECHR is now lodged.
6. Ermira Bajratari v Secretary of State for the Home DepartmentEuropean Court of Justice C-93/18
Intervention status granting full participation rights at the ECJ on behalf of The AIRE Centre. The case received a positive judgment that provides clarifications on the proportionality of restrictive measures adopted by Member States in relation to residence rights of Union citizen children and of their third-country national parents.
Full Judgment here
7. JR 76 – Challenge to Prosecution of Mother procuring Abortions Pills
Intervention status granting written intervention to the Northern Ireland Divisional was achieved on behalf of the Royal College of Midwives. Expert evidence of how criminalisation of professionals creates a chill effect restricting the care a midwife can provide. The prosecution against the mother did not proceed.
Full Judgment here
8. JR 111 – Gender Recognition Certificates
A trans women wished to challenge the need for medical reports when applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate. The Court held that the reports were necessary but a diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’ was no longer appropriate therefore a declaration of incompatibility issued. A secondary issue relating to the Belfast Trust not providing the necessary reports was then settled with the Trust committing to provide the necessary medical reports free of charge.
9. JR 195 – Challenge to compulsory school start age
This challenge was brought by a father on behalf of his 4 year old son. His son was born prematurely on 1 July meaning he was on the cut off date to commence P1 as one of the youngest in his year. Northern Ireland has one of the youngest formal schooling start age and no provision for flexibility for extenuating circumstances. The Court upheld the claim confirming the statutory scheme was disproportionate in its operation by reason of its lack of flexibility and, thus, its incapacity to deal adequately with a case where requiring a child to commence full-time education at the current compulsory school starting age is clearly and demonstrably contrary to that child’s best interests. A declaration of incompatibility issued and the child was allow to commence another year at nursery.
FAMILY & MATRIMONIAL LAW
- X Applications for Annulment of a Civil Partnership
This was the first application in UK to annul a civil partnership on the ground of gender transition. The Court granted the nullity order and the Applicant was able to convert their interim gender recognition certificate to a full certificate and enter a marriage.
2. Petition X – Same Sex Marriage
A declaration of validity in respect of a same sex marriage formed in London was sought to confirm a same sex marriage was valid and subsisting in Northern Ireland. This was strategic litigation to address the issue of same sex marriage in Northern Ireland. The High Court dismissed the case and the Court of Appeal overturned the decision confirming our client’s human rights were breached.
3. Dissolution of Civil Partnership formed in British Consulate Office in Australia
When Australia had no formal mechanism to recognise same sex couples’ relationships our client (originally from Northern Ireland) availed of a civil partnerships’ rights formed overseas and registered in the UK. The relationship broke down and we were able to issue proceedings in the High Court to dissolve the Civil Partnership and our client appeared by videolink.
4. Australian Couple with NI Surrogate.
An Australian couple originally from Ireland were the intended parents of their child born by way of surrogacy in Northern Ireland. Given the couple were not domiciled in the United Kingdom they could not achieve a Parental Order. We issued a Declaration of Parentage together with other ancillary applications allowing the commissioning father to be recognised and the family returned home.
5. Informal Sperm Donor Cases
A set of cases where we act for couples who have entered informal arrangement with a gamete/sperm donor outside of a licensed fertility clinic thus the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 does not apply. The gamete donor has now sought parental rights and we are resisting the applications on behalf of the intended parents. We are further seeking parental rights for the non-bio or psychological intended parent who cannot be named on the birth certificate. These test case continues with Judgment in the first case awaited.
Ciaran was instructed in the case of MS A and MS J and MR O and The Attorney General for Northern Ireland and The Secretary of State for Health and The Department of Health 2020. High Court Judgment here