Back down, rights body told

THE former chief constable has called on the Human Rights Commission to back down on a court case over policing at Holy Cross after the head of the body admitted it had not breached human rights.

In correspondence seen by the Irish News Chief Commissioner Brice Dickson told Sir Ronnie Flanagan he did not believe police actions during the school dispute had violated the human rights of an unnamed parent seeking a judicial review.

In a letter to the police chief dated last December, Mr Dickson said the decision to grant assistance to the applicant was not unanimous and said he was against the proposal himself.

“I myself am strongly of the view

that the policing of the protest at the Holy Cross school has not been in breach of the Human Rights Act,” Mr Dickson said.

But in a letter to Mr Dickson dated March 21 2002, just days before the chief constable retired, Sir Ronnie called on the commissioner to withdraw funding for the court challenge.

Sir Ronnie said his lawyers were

“anxious” that Mr Dickson’s letter outlining his views on the issue “should be disclosed”.

“I am deeply perturbed to be informed that having regard to the manner in which the litigation is proceeding, a further vast investment of extremely limited and scarce resources is now going to be required. In all the circumstances, I simply cannot see any justification for this,” Sir Ronnie said.

“Finally I would very strongly urge

the commission to review its funding decision, having regard (to) the vintage of the dispute and the resources issue.

“I would strongly maintain that it is inappropriate for the commission to continue to commit public funds to this litigation.”

In reply to the letter Mr Dickson, in correspondence dated March 28, urged Sir Ronnie to delay taking a decision on the disclose of his letter last year pending a meeting of the commission, which took place on Monday.

Last night a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Commission declined to comment on the issue.

A spokesman for the police service said: “Correspondence has been received late (yesterday) afternoon on this matter and until we have had the opportunity to consider this with our legal advisers, it would be inappropriate to comment.”

But in a statement last night Madden and Finucane Solicitors, who represent the Holy Cross mother, hit out at the move to remove their client’s funding.

“Without the funding the parent would have been unable to continue with her action against Flanagan and the court would not have been able to make any ruling on whether Flanagan failed to protect the children of the Holy Cross,” the statement said.

“Mr Justice Kerr granted leave to

the parent in her application for

judicial review which meant that the parent had put an arguable case before the court.

“This is an unprecedented interference in the work of the court and the parent’s entitlement to have the issue determined by a court of law.

“The matter will now be put before the judge and the parent’s lawyers will be seeking an explanation for the chief constable’s actions.”

The case is expected to be up

for mention in the High Court later today.