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Ó Snodaigh - Sinn Féin anger over Government's minimalist approach to human rights

11 June, 2003

Following the passage of the European Convention on Human Rights Bill, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD expressed his growing consternation over the Minister for Justice's self-declared war on a rights-based society, and particularly his minimalist approach to the Government's implementation of the equality and human rights aspects of the Good Friday Agreement. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"Today, with great reluctance, and unanimously with all the other opposition parties, the Sinn Féin deputies voted against the European Convention on Human Rights Bill tabled by this Government. We did so following vigorous and unified opposition attempts to remedy the Bill's major deficiencies, about which there was consensus not only among the opposition parties but also within the human rights sector in this state. Ultimately, we used our vote to underline our belief that the Government's approach was unnecessarily minimalist and seriously flawed. We also used it to draw a line in the sand with this Minister for Justice in his self-declared war on a rights-based society.

"Make no mistake. Sinn Féin want the European Convention on Human Rights properly incorporated into law, and we fought for it to be included among the Good Friday Agreement provisions. But we cannot abide the minimising of the Agreement's equality and human rights provisions by any party - no matter whether it is the Unionists, the British Government or this state.

"The Government's flawed ECHR Bill is just a single instance of an emerging pattern of denial and erosion of the principles of human and equality rights in this state ? in particular since this Justice Minister took office. The reality is that this Government is systematically undermining the rights-based approach to politics that was enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement and endorsed by the vast majority of people on this island.

"In insisting on passing a minimalist Bill the Dublin Government has substantively failed to live up to their own commitments under the Good Friday Agreement." ENDS

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