Monday, 1 February 2010

Bill of Rights propaganda

In the print version of this morning's News Letter I make the argument that the human rights industry is attempting a power grab on behalf of judges and 'deliberative democrats'. The article first appeared over at Forth Magazine. Jason Walsh's webzine is always a provocative read and it's a pity that he's thinking about winding it up.

Anyway, the conclusion to my argument in the News Letter runs as follows:

the NIHRC has long since ceased to be a public body that simply performs the task allotted to it. It has become instead a quasi political pressure group which has devoted itself to making the case for a Bill, ranging far beyond its Good Friday remit. A great deal of money has been spent on advertising, advocacy and ’education’.

The Chief Commissioner has blatantly entered into the political arena, on several occasions, to suggest that a Conservative government would “regress” in terms of rights. Monica McWilliams should remember that any tiny electoral mandate which she could once claim has long since elapsed.

The truth is that a Bill of Rights along the lines that the NIHRC suggests, and the Human Rights Consortium is campaigning for, would blur unacceptably the boundaries between the responsibilities of elected politicians and courts. It aspires, unashamedly, to bring the judiciary into the sphere of policy making.

The Consortium asserts that a majority of people in Northern Ireland want rights protection. Insofar as rights are understood to represent basic freedoms and liberties the contention is no doubt correct. But the public has certainly not sanctioned a power grab by deliberative democrats and judges. And it is for that power grab that the human rights industry is mustering support.

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