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Bill of Rights could transform society - Kearney

25 July, 2017 - by Declan Kearney

The potential to transform society is being undermined by the refusal to implement the Bill of Rights as committed to in the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has said.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph today, the South Antrim MLA called for all outstanding agreements to be implemented.

He writes: “The full transformative potential of the GFA has been systematically frustrated due to opposition from political unionism and repeated failures by the British government to fulfil its obligations, such as implementation of a Bill of Rights.

“The refusal to legislate for a Bill of Rights, an Irish Language Act, and Marriage Equality has now made these into totemic issues in this denial of democracy.

“The undermining of the GFA by successive British governments and particularly by the Tories since 2010, has contributed directly to the current political crisis.

“The DUP’s rejection of the rights and equality agenda led directly to the collapse of the political institutions in January this year.

“That has now been compounded by the anti-equality alliance formalised by the Tory/DUP deal struck after the Westminster election, and their joint support for the reckless Brexit agenda, against the wishes of the majority of voters in the North.”

Stressing the need for rights to be protected by any new executive, he added:

“Language rights, marriage rights and the rights of families to have coroner’s inquests are protected in England, Scotland, Wales, and the rest of Ireland,” he continued.

“Implementation of these and a Bill of Rights itself are key to resolving our political crisis. They represent the essential requirements of a rights based society and for re-establishing the political institutions on a credible and sustainable basis.

“Rights and equality belong to everyone in our society. A Bill of Rights is essential to ensure no citizen or section of our society is ever again put to the back of the bus.

“It is crucial to completing the process of democratic transformation envisaged by the GFA. All of us have a stake in realising that ambition.

“With a fourth round of talks on re-establishing the political institutions planned, it is vital that all sections and sectors of society intensify our efforts to ensure a Bill of Rights is finally achieved.” 

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