Derry killer challenges bouncer law

A convicted double murderer has launched a legal challenge over regulations which currently stop him gaining a licence to work as a bouncer.

Derry man Antaine O’Dochartaigh is seeking to judicially review eligibility criteria he claims is irrational and breaches his expectations as a prisoner released under the Good Friday Agreement.

His case is believed to have potential implications for a number of others who cannot apply for the permits.

O’Dochartaigh was freed in 2000 after serving time for more than 70 terrorist-related offences, including the killing of two loyalists, Cecil McKnight and Gary Lynch, in Derry in 1991.

Following his release he 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, convicted offenders cannot immediately qualify for a licence.

Lawyers for O’Dochartaigh are challenging regulations which delay his eligibility on the basis of 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 O’Dochartaigh was also given a 15-year sentence for other offences he must wait five years after that to demonstrate he can be trouble-free in the community.

His barrister, Christopher Coyle, contended in court that it was irrational and made no sense to penalise O’Dochartaigh more harshly for the lesser offences.

Mr Coyle has also argued there was a legitimate expectation that his client would not be treated as an ordinary criminal under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He claimed there had been a commitment to reintegrate people like O’Dochartaigh back into the community rather than focus on conflict-related convictions.

The judicial review hearing was adjourned until next week to decide whether the irrationality argument can be added to the existing challenge.