Barristers in boycott over queen dispute

TWO barristers at the centre of a row over a royal declaration boycotted yesterday’s ceremony in the high court to mark the swearing-in of new queen’s counsel. Barry Macdonald and Seamus Treacy were among 12 QCs appointed last month and were due to be sworn in before the lord chief justice Sir Robert Carswell. But they stayed away after being granted leave on Monday to seek a judicial review of a declaration which new QCs are required to make. The hearing is to take place in the first week of January. The declaration states: “I sincerely promise and declare that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and all whom I may lawfully be called upon to serve in the office of one of Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law according to the best of my skill and understanding.” Michael Lavery, QC for the two barristers, told the court on Monday the declaration discriminated against them as nationalists because it was contrary to their principles and an affront to their political sensibilities. Instead, he said, the lord chancellor should have adopted the declaration suggested by the Bar Council which omitted any reference to the queen, merely asking the new QCs to delare they would well and truly serve any client. Solicitors acting for the two barristers later issued a statement explaining why they stayed away. Madden and Finucane said “Mr Macdonald and Mr Treacy are not prepared to make a declaration in terms other than those already recommended by the Bar Council, their governing professional body.” The 10 sworn in at the private ceremony were: Gerald Simpson, Dermot Fee, Patrick Lynch, Henry Toner, John Cushinan, Patrick Lyttle, Noelle McGrenera, David Ringland, Bernard McCloskey and John O’Hara. Afterwards the lord chief justice addressed them in a packed open court in front of families and friends but made no reference to the legal wrangle involving their two absent colleagues. Sir Robert said: “The law has been good to you and will, I hope, be even better. You are going forth as the last batch of QCs of this millennium. May you prove to be the best. Good fortune go with you all.”