Friday, 4 April 2008

'“Civic society” has attempted to write its own permanent and legally binding programme for government'

Newton Emerson takes an interesting approach to the Bill of Rights Forum, detecting in its proposals an attempt to impose the primacy of ‘civic society’ in government. Emerson argues that the various interest groups have not only ignored political representatives' input in the forum, and shaped the report’s proposals exclusively on their own terms, but they are also creating an executive role for the judiciary who must oversee all legislation to make sure that it conforms not only to the bill’s provisions, but also to its spirit.

The Forum established a working group to establish how judicially enforceable its suggestions might be. This group paid particular attention to ‘programmatic’ or ‘target’ rights. The report recommends that a ‘justiciability audit’ be carried out to continue this process. Yet more money required from the public purse. The argument so far is that economic and social legislation should be brought before a judge even if the objective of that legislation conforms to the requirements of the Bill.

Emerson is justly cynical about the motivations for the interest groups in framing their suggestions in this way:

“Now “civic society” has attempted to write its own permanent and legally binding programme for government while also appropriating the powers and resources to enforce it.”

5 comments:

Kloot said...

On the topic of Civic society, I picked up a copy of "Rethinking Unionism: An Alternative Vision for Northern Ireland" by Norman Porter over the weekend. Ive not started reading it yet but it appears to cover some of the topics frequently covered by yourself and others, namely civic and cultural Unionism.

Have you read it? Is it a good read ?

Chekov said...

I have read it Kloot. It attempts to explain the different strands of unionist thought and address deficiencies in unionist discourse. It is the seminal work on civic unionism.

Anonymous said...

For "civic society" read "Monica McWilliams". Every time.

Kloot said...

I have read it Kloot. It attempts to explain the different strands of unionist thought and address deficiencies in unionist discourse. It is the seminal work on civic unionism.

Good stuff. I look forward to reading it so.. Just Started Jonathan Powells book. Looks like a short read

Chekov said...

I read an interesting review of Powell's book by David Trimble at the weekend. Porter's book is excellent but it's reasonably academic. A more accessible book about unionism is Transforming Unionism by Michael Kerr. It marries an analysis of unionism with an entertaining account of campaigning for the UUP in the unsuccessful 2005 election.