Failed abortion referendum challenger says she will appeal High Court refusal

Joanna Jordan

By Ann O'Loughlin

The president of the High Court has been told musician Charles Byrne has decided not to pursue an appeal against the court’s refusal to permit him to challenge the yes result of the abortion referendum.

However, Joanna Jordan, who also lost her separate application for leave to bring a petition challenging the result, told Mr Justice Peter Kelly today she intends to appeal.

Her lawyers had indicated earlier they had no instructions beyond today and intend to apply to come off record for her.

Ms Jordan, a homemaker of Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, did not indicate today whether she intends to seek any stay pending appeal on the issuing by the Referendum Returning Officer of the formal certification of the referendum result.

Because Mr Byrne is not pursuing an appeal, a stay on certification secured by him last week, which applied until next Friday, automatically lapses.

Frank Callanan SC, for the State, said his side had written to Ms Jordan on Monday seeking her position on any stay application but had not so far received a response.

Mr Justice Kelly will rule this afternoon on applications by Mr Byrne, of College Rise, Drogheda, Co Louth, and Ms Jordan for their legal costs of their separate applications against the State.

The State opposed the costs applications. It and the Referendum Commission both sought their costs against Mr Byrne, whose case was also against the Commission. The State also sought its costs against Ms Jordan.

The combined costs of the State and Commission arising from both cases is estimated at more than €200,000.

Kenneth Fogarty SC, for Mr Byrne, said his client is a 40-year-old musician who has said his only asset is his piano and whose only interest in taking the case was to try and protect the unborn child.

Having consulted with his lawyers, Mr Byrne had decided not to pursue an appeal, counsel said.

Charles Byrne

Mr Byrne was entitled to his costs due to the public importance of the case and the issues raised and he was sure the court’s judgments would be studied by legal academics for years to come, counsel said.

Killian McMorrow BL, for Ms Jordan, said he had no instructions beyond today and to seek Ms Jordan’s costs against the State.

He said her application had raised genuine issues about the system of voter registration and had contributed to restoring social cohesion after the “most divisive” referendum in the State’s history.

A significant number of people with deep religious convictions were “genuinely shocked, distressed and crestfallen” at the outcome of the referendum following a “polarising” and sometimes “bitter” campaign which set younger people against older people, he said.

Mr Callanan said there was no basis for the applicants to get their costs against the State.

Both applicants had failed by “a significant margin” to meet the legal threshold for petitions and neither had raised any novel legal issues. He disputed either case raised issues of public importance

Eoin McCullough SC, for the Commission, which was a party to Mr Byrne’s case only, agreed and said no case had been made out by Mr Byrne against the Commission.

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