Thursday, 4 February 2010

Dominic Grieve reiterates pledge to include provisions for Northern Ireland in UK Bill of Rights. And who's that he's quoting?

The Shadow Justice Secretary is delivering a speech on human rights this evening in Belfast. He will criticise the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, pointing out that it has gone well beyond its remit. He will also repeat the Conservative party's commitment to include provisions, specific to Northern Ireland, within the framework of a new UK bill.

And, you'll forgive the conceit, but I'm bound to point out that Mr Grieve has chosen to embellish his speech with a quotation from a leading authority on the topic. Or not.

The NIHRC report, as has been widely acknowledged went a long way outside the remit that had been laid down for it.

“Although I recognise its good intent, it produced a blueprint for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland which if implemented would represent a fundamental constitutional change. So widespread a vision of justiciable rights is contained within it that it is difficult to disagree with the verdict of Owen Polley writing in the Guardian, a paper normally sympathetic to the creation of greater protection for human rights (Guardian online 3/12/09), that “the NIHRC had become a quasi-political pressure group campaigning single-mindedly for a maximalist interpretation of “rights”, which included handing responsibility for socio economic policy to the judiciary”.

“The Government response makes quite clear that most of what has been proposed cannot be implemented, particularly as many of the proposals would in theory be as relevant to the rest of the UK as they are to Northern Ireland and there is no prospect of their being brought in elsewhere. There is no desire for it. The Labour Government, for instance has itself rejected any notion that socio economic rights should be justiciable in its own UK Bill of Rights proposals.

“But as the Government recognises this still leaves the question of what rights specific to Northern Ireland should be introduced. It has published a consultation paper that seems to me to be very sensible and to pose questions that call for further debate.


Ivor Whitten said...

You're famous now.

thedissenter said...

Why are we so special that we need more/different/specific rights here in NI. A human rights bill is just that and if its not universal then its a political fix.

Gary said...

Indeed, it also makes Northern Ireland a "place apart"