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De Brún comments on publication of Bill of Rights submissions

19 August, 2003

Commenting on today's publication by the Human Rights Commission of submissions made by the public on the Bill of Rights issue, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Human Rights and Equality, Bairbre de Brún said:

"The general public has widely and positively responded to the need to engage with the Bill of Rights as part of the Good Friday Agreement. This obviously needs to be built upon in the time ahead to ensure that civic society, alongside the political parties, can generate the maximum agreement for a comprehensive Bill of Rights for all.

"However, as we have stated publicly in recent weeks, there is deep concern around the fact that a quarter of the Human Rights Commission have resigned on matters specifically related to the Commission's approach to key equality and parity of esteem issues in the draft Bill of Rights and in relation to the highly questionable actions of the Chief Commissioner with regard to matters around the Holy Cross situation.

"It is our view that both internal and external impediments have produced a Human Rights Commission that is unfortunately not the fully independent and effective champion of human rights that was outlined in the Good Friday Agreement.

"The HRC needs to reflect on this as it launches the hundreds of submissions it received as a testimony to the multiple human rights issues that need to be addressed within our society.

"The British government should also seriously reflect and ensure that the HRC is provide with the fill range of powers and resources it needs to carry out its remit, Crucial to the future credibility of the Commission is the need to be representative of the society it serves. The current composition is not. It is therefore the responsibility of the British government to immediately put in place an independent appointments mechanism." ENDS

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