Complex judgment ‘has to be studied’

THE future of the two barristers was far from clear last night. Their stand over the declaration meant they could not be sworn in last December along with 10 colleagues and since then they have continued to practice as junior counsel. A senior QC said the judgment did not mean they would now automatically become QCs. He explained: “It is open to the lord chancellor to embark on a process of consultation with the judges and the Bar Council and then decide to retain the current declaration. “It would be a strange way to proceed but there is nothing to stop him adopting such a course.” The QC, who did not wish to be named, added that a possible outcome would be to allow the issue to remain on the back burner for a while before a muted announcement that it had been decided to drop the reference to the queen. The barristers, Seamus Treacy and Barry Macdonald, declined to comment on the decision but their solicitor Angela Ritchie, of Madden and Finucane, said: “We are pleased that the application has been successful. It is a very detailed judgment which will require thorough consideration.” Sinn Fein welcomed the court ruling claiming it removed a “barrier” to nationalists. Assembly member Conor Murphy said: “Clearly the declaration to serve the British monarch was offensive to many nationalists.” “This declaration and the oath which went before it acted as a barrier in the past to nationalists becoming QCs. ‘‘The Good Friday agreement provided for nationalist symbols and ethos to be respected.” He said the two barristers who took the successful case should now be allowed to continue their careers unhindered.