Monday, 14 September 2009

Assembly to debate human rights car crash

Although the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s recommendations are effectively dead in the water, the resultant outflow of public monies is far from being stemmed just yet. Indeed the NIO launches a public consultation on the proposals this autumn, despite the absence of any cross party, or cross community consensus by which they might proceed.

Therefore the intervention made by two Ulster Unionist MLAs, Danny Kennedy and Tom Elliott, who have put down a motion (scroll down) which should ensure that the pertinent issues are debated at Stormont, is particularly welcome. The wording they choose is instructive. It reflects the view, supported by the Secretary of State, that the NIHRC’s report falls outside the remit prescribed for it by the Good Friday Agreement.

“This Assembly considers the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s advice to the Secretary of State “A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland” as incompatible with the provisions of the Belfast Agreement; notes with concern that the report’s proposals would undermine the democratic role and authority of this Assembly and the Parliament of the United kingdom; and urges the Secretary of State not to implement the report’s recommendations.”

It’s worth reiterating, in addition, David Adams’ point that the Agreement did not, in fact, suggest a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, much less require one.

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