In yesterday’s Irish Legal News, we incorrectly stated that Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin QC had told local residents who objected to the construction of a new wall at the Chinese consulate in Belfast that “planning laws were not covered by diplomatic immunity”.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General told ILN: “What the Attorney has said is that there is no bar in international or domestic law to an enforcement notice being issued against the consulate.
“The inviolability of consular premises under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 (as incorporated into UK law by Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964) does not exempt such premises from the requirements of domestic planning law.
“While it is true that coercive action cannot be taken to enforce any court order against consular personnel (such personnel could not, for example, be committed for contempt of court) that is legally separate from the duty of the consulate to comply with planning and environmental law.”
We are pleased to set the record straight.