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De Brún - Concern at failure to address concerns about the Human Rights Commission

10 September, 2003

Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, Bairbre de Brún has expressed concern at the failure of the British government and the Human Rights Commission to address serious problems in the make up and operation of the commission. Bairbre de Brún has also written to the Chief Commissioner Brice Dickson about the need for it to restore public confidence in its willingness to protect the rights of all.

Ms de Brún said:

"The Human Rights Commission is a key component of the Good Friday Agreement which Sinn Féin strongly argued for and supported. We are very concerned at the Human Rights Commission's approach to a number of issues such as fair employment and the Chief Commissioner's inappropriate behaviour in the Holy Cross case. We approach this issue on the basis of wanting the best possible Human Rights Commission.

"The Chief Commissioner's actions in respect of the Holy Cross case, particularly his correspondence with former PSNI Chief Ronnie Flanagan, has undermined public confidence. It was totally inappropriate. The rights of little children should not depend on the area in which they live or the religion of their family.

"The Chief Commissioner has not dealt satisfactorily with these concerns about the way the Commission has developed under his stewardship. We have discussed our concerns and what is required fix the problem with the two governments. We need to look at a restructuring that includes the composition, the appointments process and then the powers and resources of the Commission. The British government need to put in place the measures to guarantee the integrity, independence and effectiveness of the Commission. The Human Rights Commission is broken. It needs fixed.

"I have written once again to the Commission stressing the need for it also to restore public confidence in its' integrity and its' willingness to promote and protect the rights of all regardless identity or political persuasion. ENDS

Note to Editors

The case which was taken by the parent of a child attending Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast against the then RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan is due to start proceedings today.

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