Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Commission wrong to move forward with Bill of Rights debate

7 April, 2004

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane has expressed "serious concerns" that the Human Rights Commission, as currently constituted, has published a report on the Bill of Rights given the lack of public confidence in the Commission.

Ms Ruane said:

"Without getting into any definitive response to such a substantial document from the Commission, Sinn Fein still want to place on record our total commitment to securing the maximal Bill of Rights as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement.

"There is a litany of major problems surrounding the Commission, its lack of independence, unbalanced representation and questionable approach to issues such as the Bill of Rights to date. As constituted the Commission does not command public confidence.

"It is incredible that the Commission has ignored all the advice given to it by ourselves and others not to go down this road with the Bill of Rights process before to the measures required to reconstruct the Commission are put in place by the British government.

"Sinn Fein is also concerned that the Human Rights Commission has unilaterally taken a decision to dismiss the potential of a roundtable forum being established that where contained in the Joint Declaration. This would have allowed political parties alongside civic society the proper space to debate the Bill of Rights. This again calls into question the stewardship of the current Commission. We will be raising the matter with the Irish and British governments as a matter of urgency." ENDS

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