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US Congress to probe British stalling on GFA Bill of Rights committment

13 September, 2010 - by Maeve McLaughlin

The failure by the British Government to uphold it’s Good Friday Agreement committment to introduce a Bill of Rights for the North of Ireland will be probed by a US Congressional Committee, Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights spokesperson Martina Anderson has revealed.

“There will be a Congressional Hearing on the North of Ireland this Thursday and one of the main themes is expected to be the British Government’s ongoing failure to introduce a Bill of Rights which is a key Good Friday Agreement commitment,” Ms. Anderson commented.

“I am delighted that this hearing is taking place because it is vital that we bring as much pressure to bear on the London Government to honour their part in what is an internationally-binding peace agreement.

“A strong Bill of Rights – particularly one which contains socio-economic protections – is vital to consolidating the peace process because structural socio-economic discriminations and inequalities were contributing factors to the conflict here, not least on issues such as employment and housing.

“However, from the consultation document which they produced in February, it is clear that the British Government has absolutely no intention of introducing such a Bill. In fact, they have basically ignored the advice of the Bill of Rights Forum, the Human Rights Commission and those of us who spent years seeking agreement on what rights and protections the Bill should contain.

“This disrespectful disregard of the Bill of Rights forum and the Human Rights Commission is an insult to all those from many sectors of society who invested so much time and effort within this process over the past eleven years.

“They have also indicated that they intend to deal with this issue by simply including a subsection on the North of Ireland as part of a wider Bill of Rights for Britain . This is not acceptable. It is a breach of the Good Friday Agreement and of the commitment by both the Liberals and the Conservatives to uphold it.

"The Bill of Rights for the North of Ireland is a key unfulfilled commitment arising from the Good Friday Agreement and we would urge the US to use its influence on the British Government to ensure that they stop to evading their responsibilities in relation to equality and human rights by undermining this process.”

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