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Minister Murphy attends meeting of Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum

24 Feb 2022

Minister of Finance, Conor Murphy MLA, attended this week's meeting of the Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum.

The Forum heard from the Minister about the recently announced changes to public procurement with regard to human rights and how to better ensure their protection in the procurement process.

In line with this announcement, The Department of Finance has also published a Procurement Policy Note, “Human Rights in Public Procurement”, which outlines the actions that Departments must take to incorporate human rights considerations into contracts when conducting a procurement process.

Minister Murphy said:

'I was delighted to attend this Forum which encourages dialogue between government and the human rights and business communities. My Department has worked hard to ensure that the £3bn spent through procurement each year advances people’s social and economic rights. A new policy mandates the scoring of social value in contracts alongside cost and quality. Another requires the mapping of supply chains in order to identify potential Human Rights and Modern Slavery risks. These polices have been co-designed with business and trade union representatives on the Procurement Board. The Board is a good model for how government and business can work together to advance people’s rights.'

The Forum’s Chair Stephen Abram said:

‘Along with the Vice Chair of the Forum, Barbara Henry, and other Forum members, we were delighted that Minister Murphy was able to join us at today’s meeting. It was good to hear more from the Minister about the updated procurement guidance and in particular what this will mean for better ensuring human rights protections in the procurement process. This was of great interest to the Forum members and we are grateful to the Minister for his attendance. This was our first meeting of 2022 and we would be very glad to see new members join the Forum and help to raise awareness of the issues around human rights in the business community in Northern Ireland.’

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s Chief Commissioner, Alyson Kilpatrick, added:

‘The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission very much welcomes the recent announcement that the Northern Ireland Executive will further embed the Human Rights Procurement Guidance Notes into policy, and it was good hear more from the Minister today about this. Human rights should be embedded in all procurement processes not least to help eradicate modern slavery, illegal child labour and health and safety breaches. We look forward to working with the Northern Ireland Executive in achieving this outcome.’

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

1)On 7TH February 2022 the Department of Finance announced a series of changes to public procurement including to better protect human rights Department’s Press Release here.

The Department published PPN 05/21 Human Rights in Public Procurement in November 2021.

2) The Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum is a multi-stakeholder platform which allows Government, business, and civil society to engage on business and human rights. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission provides the secretariat for the Forum.

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