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Human and democratic rights should be common ground – Kearney

11 December, 2017 - by Declan Kearney

Speaking today at an event in Queen’s University as part of the Human Rights Consortium’s annual Human Rights Festival, on the theme 'Do unionists and nationalists have different concepts of what is a human right?' Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA, Declan Kearney said:

"Human and democratic rights must be universal for all citizens and their implementation should be common ground, transcending communal division or constitutional differences.

"In our immediate context the denial of fundamental human and democratic rights goes to the crux of the political crisis in the north.

"The refusal to legislate for a Bill of Rights, an Irish Language Act and marriage equality, and the British Government’s opposition to dealing with the past and delivering legacy inquest rights, has now made these into totemic issues in this denial of democracy.

"The DUP and others in political unionism have tried to reduce the rights agenda to a zero sum game. Rights and equality belong to everyone. 

"The implementation of these rights and a Bill of Rights are key to resolving the political crisis. 

They are the essential requirements of a rights-based society and re-establishing the political institutions on a credible and sustainable basis.

"Nationalists and also many unionists are committed to a rights-based power-sharing administration which is avowedly anti-sectarian.

"That agenda is being blocked by the DUP, with the support of the Tory government.

“As a result the political impasse is deepening. Those committed to political progress on the basis of rights and equality within civic unionism need to challenge the leadership of political unionism and demand that its veto on rights is ended."

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