Prison Law

Phoenix Law is a leading practice in Prison Law. We represent and act for clients detained in prisons in the North and South of Ireland including Maghaberry, Hydebank, Mountjoy and Portlaoise Prisons. 

Our solicitors have been at the cutting edge of representing prisoners and their families in many key areas including National Security, Prison Appeals, Repatriation, Prison adjudications, Education and well-being.  In addition, we have advised and acted for those who have been the subject of ill treatment whilst detained, in the successfully claiming damages and compensation by way of civil proceedings. 

Our team of specialist lawyers are committed to ensuring that those currently detained have their rights protected by ensuring accountability via litigation for any failures, negligence or deficiencies in their treatment whilst detained. 

Solicitor

Gavin Booth

Trainee Solicitor

Sean Dunlea

Danielle Cromie
Legal Executive

Danielle Cromie

Solicitor

Gavin Booth

Gavin Booth specialises in Actions against the Police, Public Law and Prison Law. In a short time, he has developed a specialist practice in these areas.  He regularly appears in some of the most high-profile actions against the Police cases, prison law and public law challenges in this jurisdiction. 

Gavin has developed a specialist practice acting in legacy cases for those victims who have been bereaved or injured arising out of incidents during the conflict.  

He is currently involved in some of the most high-profile legacy cases emanating from the period commonly referred to as ‘the troubles,’ including the RUC murder of Colum Marks in April 1991, the murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth in 1976, the attack on the Thierafurth Inn Bar in November 1992, and the murders of Dwyane O’Donnell and Thomas Armstrong at Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh in March 1991.

Gavin has appeared in both the Irish Supreme Court and the UK Supreme Court.  In the Irish Supreme Court in YY -v- Minister for Justice, concerning the deportation of an ISIS suspect and in theUK Supreme Court in Re Anthony McIntyre [2019] which challenged the lawfulness of the controversial decision by the police to rely on tapes collected from the Boston College project. Gavin has also secured the largest civil settlement in the Boston College cases in this jurisdiction for the claimants.

Gavin holds an LLM Masters in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice. Gavin co-authored two reports with Doughty Street Chambers in London. The first report was on the Repeal of the Human Rights Acts in Northern Ireland and the second on the effect of Media Concentration in Ireland. Gavin addressed the European Parliament in Brussels on two occasions.

Outside of work Gavin is also a Director of the Newry Charity Davina’s Ark which specialises in addiction and after care.

Actions against the Police & Public Law

  1. Thierafurth Inn – Collusion in County Down (Re John McEvoy)

In 2016 the then Police Ombudsman Dr. Michael Maguire released his report on Loughinsiand. The report was tasked with looking at issues of Collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and members of the Security forces including the RUC and UDR. The report ultimately concluded that collusion was a significant feature of the murders.  The Report for the first time linked other cases prior to the events at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland including the murder of Jack Kielty in Dundrum, the attempted murder of Peter McCarthy and the attack on the Thierafurth Inn in 1992. Mr John McEvoy challenged the failure of the PSNI to investigate the allegations into his attempted murder at the Thierafurth Inn in 1992 and sought a fresh independent investigation into the not only the events at the Thierafurth Inn, but all the murders associated with this murder gang.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here 

  1. Agent Provocateur Sandy Lynch and others (R -v- Clinton and Armstrong)

In an out of time appeal, Gavin was instructed by the appellants Clinton and Armstrong in successfully overturning the 30-year-old convictions as a result of the fresh evidence that they were entrapped by a state agent (or a covert human intelligence source) acting as an agent provocateur.

 The relevant media footage can be accessed here   

  1. Raymond McCreesh Park (Re Rosaleen Murphy)

The applicant a Newry Pensioner and local resident sought to challenge the decision of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s decision to dispose of Raymond McCreesh Park through their D1 Disposal Process without consultation with the local community.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Boston College tapes (Re Anthony McIntyre)

This was a challenge to the Divisional Courts refusal to allow the applicant a right of appeal in Northern Ireland. The Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the applicant’s proposed appeal given that the court from which he seeks to appeal declined to certify that a point of law of general public importance was involved in the decision.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Irish Supreme Court in Deportation of ISIS Suspect

In this determination (YY v Minister for Justice & Equality), the Supreme Court granted YY leave for a leapfrog appeal from the High Court decision to allow his deportation to proceed, due to the exceptional circumstances of the case. YY was previously imprisoned for planning terrorist acts—including in Ireland. But, if deported to his home state, he faces the risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of torture).

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

The Judgment can be accessed here

  1. RUC Murder of IRA volunteer Colum Marks (Re R. Rooney)

In 2016 the then Police Ombudsman History Directorate refused to establish an investigation to the death of Colum Marks in 1991. The Ombudsman claimed he was unable to order a fresh investigation in the absence of new information following a previous review by the RUC at the time. Following media attention in the case a new witness came forward which brought a fresh decision for a new investigation. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Immediate Investigation by PONI into the murder of Colum Marks (Re Roisin Marks)

This matter relates to a Judicial Review application brought by Mrs. Róisin Marks in relation to the delay in investigation by the Police Ombudsman in investigating her son’s death in Downpatrick County Down by the RUC. The Applicant was granted leave to apply for judicial review against the decision of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (“PONI”) contained in the letter dated 20 July 2017, namely that PONI cannot conduct an investigation into the circumstances of Mr Marks death within a reasonable time scale due to the failure of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to provide sufficient funding to PONI. In 2017, Roisin Marks brought a judicial review challenge against the failure of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (“PONI”) to carry out a timeous investigation into her complaint about the shooting of Colum Marks in Downpatrick in 1991. She also sought to challenge the ongoing failure of the Department of Justice, the Executive Committee, and/or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to provide adequate funding to the PONI to enable it to carry out legacy investigations without undue delay. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. DOJ failure to fund the Office of Police Ombudsman. (Re Brendan Morgan)

This matter relates to an application brought by Mr Brendan Morgan in relation to the failure of the Police Ombudsman to carry out a timeous investigation into his complaint into his attempted murder and the attack on the Thierafurth Inn Bar, in Kilcoo County Down in 1992. Background2.On 27 March 2019, Mr Morgan brought a judicial review challenge against the failure of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (“PONI”) to carry out a timeous investigation. He also sought to challenge the ongoing failure of the Department of Justice to provide adequate funding to the PONI to enable it to carry out legacy investigations without undue delay.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here  

  1. Boston College Tapes (Re Anthony McIntyre)

In 2001 Mr. McIntyre became involved in an academic oral history project known as the “Belfast Project” with the tapes becoming known as the Boston College Tapes. On 3 September 2014 the PSNI requested that the PPS issue an ILOR in respect of McIntyre’s tapes. The ILOR was issued on 9 February 2015 through Mutual Legal Assistance under Section 7(5) of the Crime (International Cooperation) Act 2003 seeking access to McIntyre oral tapes. Mr. McIntyre sought to challenge this.

The Judgment can be accessed here

  1. Further investigation into the murder of Seamus Ludlow (Re Thomas Fox)

This was a challenge to the decision of the Minister for Justice’s ongoing failure or refusal to establish two commissions of investigation pursuant to the Commission of Investigation Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) as per the recommendations of the Houses of the Oireachtas and Judge Henry Barron for the further Commissions into the handling of the murder of Seamus Ludlow by An Garda Síochána. In 2020 this matter was brought before the Court of Appeal in Dublin with judgment reserved.

The Judgment can be accessed here

Prison Law

  1. Licence Conditions to extend to ROI  – (Re Gerard McManus (and Keith McConnan)

This was a challenge taken by Mr. McManus from County Donegal and Mr. McConnan from County Louth following their release on licence.  Each of the applicants were subject to licence conditions. These conditions required the applicants to reside in United Kingdom during the period of their licence. Both applicants through these proceedings challenged the refusal to permit them to reside in the Republic of Ireland during their conditions. 

The Judgment can be accessed here.

  1. Right for separated Prisoners to use Internet for Education. (Re Brendan McConville)

This was a challenge brought regarding the prison failure to allow the applicant access to computer facilities whilst in custody for the purposes of completing his degree.  

The Judgment can be accessed here

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Access to the Prison Library (Re Sean McVeigh)

This is a challenge brought against NIPS refusal to allow separated prisoners access to the Prison Library or access to Prison Library books. 

  1. Transfer to separated conditions on safety grounds (Re: Luke O’Neill

The applicant was remanded to Maghaberry Prison on 27 September 2016. Since then he has been seeking admission to the separated landing for Republican prisoners at Roe House. He argues that it is only in these conditions that he will be safe in prison. His transfer to separated conditions was refused by way of a written notice on 26 October 2016.  As a result, he sought to challenge this citing safety concerns for the place he was housed. 

 The Judgment can be accessed here

  1. Failure to properly investigate death threats (Re Luke O’Neill)

Following the matter being remitted by the Court of Appeal back to the trial judge the applicant sought extensive Discovery against the respondents which showed that there was a death threat against the Applicant in the place he was housed. An offer of £50,000 was placed against the applicant and the Prison became aware of this. The Applicant then sought to challenge this for a finding of a breach of Article 2 of ECHR. 

 The Judgment can be accessed here The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Information Sharing between Hospitals and Prisons (Re Michael Larkin).

This is a challenge to the refusal to permit the applicant a period of temporary release to visit his mother in hospital before her death. The Applicant argues that this was in breach of his rights as protected by Article 8 ECHR and was unlawful. The applicant learned in the proceedings that the Trust and the Prison refused to provide the necessary information to allow the correct decision to be made.

Trainee Solicitor

Sean Dunlea

Sean Dunlea graduated with an LLB (Hons) in Law from Liverpool John Moores University in 2018. 

Sean is a key player in our Actions Against the Police and Prison Law department.  Our Actions Against the Police department covers a wide range of issues, primarily ensuring that the human rights of those in society are upheld when infringed upon by the various branches of the justice system.   

Sean is an experienced paralegal with a varied background, after graduating he worked in the litigation department of a well-respected top commercial UK Law Firm before specialising in the world of Intellectual Property Law.  Sean has transferred his commercial experience to his human rights and public law practice whereby he continues to utilise his litigation skills and experience in obtaining significant damages and compensation for those clients he represents.   

Sean has appeared at all levels including the County Court and High Court in a multitude of practice areas including litigation, personal injury and medical negligence.    This has resulted in Sean having been instructed in some high value actions including the recent litigation against ‘Planet Fun’ for the accident at the Theme Park in July 2021, a group action as a result of unlawful stop and searches and a wider challenge to the current failure to transfer a prisoner to his home jurisdiction to serve his sentence.   

Danielle Cromie

Legal Executive

Danielle Cromie

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