Derryman with murder convictions wins court challenge on ‘bouncer’ rules

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A Derry man who was convicted of the murder of two loyalists has succeeded in a High Court challenge to rules stopping him gaining a licence to work as a bouncer.

Eligibility criteria have been amended as a result of proceedings brought by Tony Doherty, a judge was told today (Weds).

The policy amendments, approved by the Home Secretary, remove an automatic bar on him obtaining a door staff permit.

Mr Justice Treacy Treacy said: “It’s a good result from the applicant’s point of view, albeit he had to wait a while.”

Doherty was released in 2000 after serving time for more than 70 terrorist-related offences. They included the murders of loyalists Cecil McKnight and Gary Lynch in Derry in 1991.

He sought to judicially review regulations which allegedly breached his expectations as a prisoner freed under the Good Friday Agreement.

Following his release Doherty had worked as a doorman until new licensing requirements for security industry staff were extended to Northern Ireland.

Under rules overseen by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), convicted offenders cannot immediately qualify for a licence.

Lawyers for Doherty, whose name was given as Antaine O’Dochartaigh in court papers, challenged regulations which delayed his eligibility due to his lesser convictions. It was argued that if he had served time for murder alone he could have been considered for a licence in 2009. But because he also received a 15-year sentence for other offences he had to wait another five years to demonstrate he can be trouble-free in the community.

Counsel for the SIA, Peter Coll, confirmed in court today that a resolution has been reached due to the policy amendments.

“The question of the impact of his conflict-related convictions will no longer be an automatic bar to him being awarded a licence,” Mr Coll said. “It will be considered in the context of material relevancy.”

The outcome means Doherty can now reapply for a licence without being charged a further fee. His convictions will only be taken into account if they have any bearing on the job he is seeking. He is also to have his legal bill paid as part of the resolution.

Mr Coll confirmed: “As a significant change in the position has been achieved by Mr O’Dochartaigh, we have agreed in that context that we will accede to an order for costs.”

Dismissing the case on that basis, Mr Justice Treacy praised all sides for reaching a settlement.

He said: “The parties are to be commended for arriving at what in the circumstances was a just solution to the issue.”