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Ó Snodaigh launches Bill to protect Human Rights Commission from Budgetary assaults

9 December, 2008 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Justice and Human Rights Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD today launched and called for all party support for the Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Bill 2008. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said he drafted the Bill to protect the status of the commission and called on the Government to adopt it to mark International Human Rights Day and the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights which take place tomorrow.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The Government has used the current economic climate as an excuse to silence critical non Government voices such as the Human Rights Commission. Budget 2009 cut the budget of the Human Rights Commission so drastically that it is now barely able to function.

"The Irish Human Rights Commission was established under the Good Friday Agreement which was endorsed by the overwhelming majority of people on this island. In the years since it has been held in high esteem by the international community as good practice in the protection of human rights. However the Government has seen fit to silence it.

"I have drafted the Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Bill 2008 in an attempt to insulate the Commission from this type of budgetary assault by making it more accountable to the Oireachtas as a whole rather than just one Minister and by creating a new All Party Committee on Human Rights to ensure Oireachtas debate around and input into the Commission's ongoing resource needs.

"What we have seen is a Government in a strop lashing out at an independent body who's job it is to point out the flaws in its practices. This cannot be allowed to happen. The overwhelming majority of people throughout the whole island have endorsed this body and it should not be silenced by any Government.

"If this Government is serious about the protection of Human Rights then it should drop its attack on the Commission and adopt this Bill to mark International Human Rights Day and the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights both of which take place tomorrow." ENDS

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