Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams this morning urged the government to move speedily to ensure that progress is made on a Bill of Rights for the north.
The Sinn Féin leader raised this issue in the Dáil with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny following the publication this week of the report of the British government’s Commission on a Bill of Rights.
Mr Adams said:
“For the last two years the British Government has argued against a Bill of Rights in the north in direct contravention of the Good Friday Agreement. It has defended its position by stating that its preferred choice for dealing with the issue of rights in the north is for an add-on or separate section to a UK Bill of Rights.
“On Tuesday the British Government’s Commission published its report. It failed to reach agreement on how the future of human rights will be dealt with in the British context. And this issue is now being long fingered.
“However, there was unanimity among the commissioners that the Bill of Rights issue should continue to be progressed in the north.
“The commissioners recognised the distinctive Bill of Rights process to the north ‘and its importance to the peace process’.
“They said; ‘We do not wish to interfere in that process in any way nor for any of the conclusions that we reach to be interpreted or used in such a way as to interfere in, or delay, the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights process.’
“The onus is now on the Irish and British governments to move this process forward.
“A Bill of Rights for the north is an outstanding Good Friday Agreement commitment. This is not a nationalist or a unionist issue.
“A Bill of Rights would offer protections for the most vulnerable, it would respect the diversity of our community and would have equality at its very core.”
The Sinn Féin President has said that he intends to return to this issue in the new year.