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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 12:05 GMT
IRA ceasefire challenge rejected
Michelle Williamson pictured with David Trimble at an earlier hearing

A Northern Ireland woman whose parents were killed in the Shankill bomb has lost her High Court challenge to former Secretary of State Mo Mowlam's controversial ruling that the IRA ceasefire has not broken down.

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Michelle Williamson was not in the High Court in Belfast to hear Mr Justice Kerr dismiss her application for judicial review.

Her action centred on Shankill bomber Sean Kelly who is due for early release next July.

Ms Williamson maintained he should be kept behind bars because IRA prisoners were not entitled to benefit from the early release scheme as it was not maintaining a "complete and unequivocal ceasefire."

To back up her argument her lawyers cited the murder of Charles Bennett and gun-running from the USA - both attributed to the IRA by the RUC chief constable.

But in rejecting Ms Williamson's application, Mr Justice Kerr said: "Parliament clearly contemplated that it would be possible for an organisation to be engaged in acts of violence while maintaining such a ceasefire."

Charles Bennett: His murder was linked to the IRA
The judge said that apart from this, it appeared to him that the word "ceasefire" must connote a suspension of hostilities rather than a complete abstention from any form of violence.

The Judge added: "The Secretary of State's conclusion that, notwithstanding PIRA's involvements in both these incidents (the Bennett murder and gun-running) it was maintaining a complete and unequivocal ceasefire cannot, therefore, in my opinion, be characterised as irrational."

He said the approach adopted by Mo Mowlam - now succeeded by Peter Mandelson - was a proper one.

She applied the correct statutory test and therefore the application for judicial review must be dismissed.

After the court ruling Peter Mandelson said he was satisfied with the outcome.

"I recognise that the ruling will cause hurt to others but no court judgement can ever undo the pain suffered by the victims of violence.

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See also:
20 Sep 99 |  Northern Ireland
IRA ceasefire challenge
26 Aug 99 |  Northern Ireland
IRA truce holds - Mowlam
31 Aug 99 |  Northern Ireland
PM backs Mowlam's ceasefire stance
01 Sep 99 |  Northern Ireland
Blair 'betraying' Northern Ireland - Hague
31 Aug 99 |  Northern Ireland
Ulster Unionists delay review decision
Links to other Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.