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Commission sets record straight on Bill of Rights debate

06 Sept 2012

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has today published a document on the proposed Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. “Is that Right?” sets out facts and fictions surrounding the widely debated issue.
Chief Commissioner Professor Michael O’Flaherty stated:
For many years the proposed Bill of Rights has been an issue of debate and disagreement. This document addresses the misunderstandings and misinformation concerning what a bill of rights would mean if one were to be introduced.”
The NIHRC delivered its advice on a Bill of Rights to the UK Government in 2008. Since then very little progress has been made. This is matter of regret for the Commission’ which continues to consider that the advice it delivered constitutes a strong basis on which to proceed. The new publication is intended to support a fresh round of more reasoned and well informed discussion on a Bill of Rights.
Professor O’Flaherty added:
The Bill of Rights is unfinished business. There are many issues such as dealing with the past and promoting good community relations to which a Bill would make a crucial contribution. This potential was recognised in 1998 by the architects of the peace process. Not having a bill of rights denies the people of Northern Ireland an important tool for making progress to a shared and better future for all. The onus is now on the Government to take the necessary steps to ensure that a Bill will be adopted. To avoid that responsibility would be to renege on one of the most important provisions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. ”
Further information:
For further information please contact Claire Martin (028) 9024 3987 (office).
Notes to editors

  1. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.
  2. Under the terms of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998’ the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was asked to consult and advise on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. The Commission delivered advice to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 10 December 2008.
  3. Access ‘Is that Right?’ Fact and Fiction on a Bill of Rights.

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