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Posts Tagged ‘Bill of Rights’

Human Rights & the UK General Election

April 6, 2010 2 comments

And they’re off! The least surprising news story of the day so far has been that Gordon Brown has made the trip to Buckingham Palace to request that the Queen dissolve Parliament, effective next Tuesday (this is to allow the Digital Economy Bill to be rushed through Parliament in the next six days). A General Election will take place on Thursday 6 May.

There are two key human rights issues that may be affected by the outcome of this election – one of which will be of great concern to human rights advocates in Ireland. These are:

  • the future status of the Human Rights Act; and
  • the campaign for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland (see here, here, here, and here). Read more…
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The End of the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland?

March 30, 2010 2 comments

Tomorrow is the closing date for submissions to the Northern Ireland Office in response to their consultation on the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. We have previously discussed this matter at much length (see Colin Harvey here and myself here). However, the Irish Times is today reporting that the Democratic Unionist Party has called for the plans to be abandoned. Against the backdrop of the upcoming British General election, this is another blow to those who believe that a Bill of Rights is necessary to fully embed the constitutional change wrought by the Good Friday Agreement. Further information on the campaign for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland can be found at http://www.borini.info/.

Whither the Bill of Rights?

February 18, 2010 15 comments

StormontToday Aoife Nolan highlighted that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) published their response to the Government Consultation Paper earlier this week. NIHRC wholly rejected the general tone and content of the Government’s paper and pointed out some of its most glaring inconsistencies. It appears from the NIHRC response that the Government has:

  • Attempted to drastically curtail the scope of the Northern Ireland charter by dismissing out of hand any rights (eg social, economic and cultural rights) that cannot be simplistically linked to the Troubles (though many such rights were, of course, violated during the conflict). The Government paper instead claims that such rights should be analysed in the UK rather than the NI context.
  • Engaged in double-think by on the one hand criticising the broad scope of the NIHRC proposals while on the other hand complained that many of the suggested rights are already ‘protected’ by a patchwork quilt of secondary legislation and policy documents.
  • Utterly (and/or deliberately) misunderstood or misrepresented the nature of the project by failing to appreciate that the protection of rights by such a patchwork quilt is not sufficient to meet the aspirations of the Belfast Agreement. It is clear that NIHRC have in mind a constitutional charter, whereas the Government would be satisfied with the bare minimum protection.

One can’t help but think that the proposed Bill of Rights is becoming a ‘political football’ ‘collateral damage’ ‘insert-cliché-here’ in the electoral jousting of the Labour and Conservative Parties. As will be recalled from my previous post here, the Bill of Rights is approaching its due date at a time when human rights is becoming a four letter phrase in Britain. The general tenor of the Westminster debate tends to range from indifference to outright hatred of the Human Rights Act. The idea that Northern Ireland might be about to adopt a charter that goes further than existing law in Britain or Ireland appears to go largely unnoticed.

Read more…