At a meeting of the British/Irish Parliamentary Association (BIPA) meeting in Westminster this morning Sinn Féin representative Barry McElduff MLA (West Tyrone) tabled a motion for discussion calling for a Bill of Rights for the North of Ireland.
Barry McElduff speaking prior to the discussion said:
“The motion tabled for discussion today deals with, in my view, one of the major outstanding issues from the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
“The lack of movement on a Bill of Rights in the north is in direct contravention of the Agreement.
“The British Government’s Commission on human rights published its report at the end of last year and it failed to reach agreement on how the future of human rights will be dealt with in the British context. However, there was unanimity among the commissioners that the Bill of Rights issue should continue to be progressed in the north of Ireland.
“The commissioners recognised the importance of a distinctive Bill of Rights process to the north ‘and its importance to the peace process’.
“The onus is now therefore 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 and would respect the diversity of our community, having equality at its very core.
“I also believe that given recent events in the north, dominated by disputes over conflicting rights, mutual respect and parity of esteem – and in the context of the multi-party Haass talks taking place – that this issue is now more pressing than ever.
Sinn Féin TD Aengus O'Snodaigh also speaking at the event thanked, “those from across the parliaments and regional assemblies represented for co-signing this motion, and so allowing the BIPA to debate this important issue.”
EDITORS NOTE: Full wording of Motion below:
The motion states –
"In this, the fifteenth anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, this 47th plenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly:
-reaffirms its support for the underlying principles of the Good Friday Agreement, including equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem, and
- calls for a renewed focus, on the basis of the above principles, by the two governments and the parties to the Executive on the need to give effect to the GFA provisions with respect to the establishment of a Bill of Rights for the north of Ireland and the creation of a charter, open to signature by all democratic political parties, reflecting and endorsing agreed measures for the protection of the fundamental rights of everyone living in the island of Ireland."