Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Confidence deficit needs addressed

16 September, 2003

Sinn Féin Human Rights and Equality Spokesperson, EU candidate Bairbre de Brún has called on the British government to "take urgent steps to rebuild public confidence in the Human Rights Commission". Her call comes after a thorough discussion by the party‚s national executive, the Ard Chomhairle, which examined the range of issues that are causing both political and public concern.

Ms de Brún said:

"The Ard Chomhairle considered the range of issues which over some time now have undoubtedly contributed to the Commission‚s independence and effectiveness being seriously damaged.

"These issues are in relation to the Chief Commissioner Brice Dickson's inappropriate handling of the Holy Cross case and the fact that to date three Commissioners have resigned over their concerns at the Commission's approach to key equality matters regarding the Bill of Rights. Over the weekend it was revealed that two additional Commissioners have withdrawn from the workings of the Commission.

"The considered view of the Ard Chomhairle is that the Human Rights Commission is in serious difficulty and requires a programme of reconstruction in order to restore public confidence in this key mechanism of the Good Friday Agreement.

"In our meetings with the British and Irish governments we have called for the Commission to be provided with the powers and resources it requires to carry out its remit. Most important however is the need for the Commission to be effective, to be fully independent and for its composition to be representative.

"British government plans to advertise for further appointments in the middle of this deepening crisis without ensuring the independence of the selection panel and an appointment process based on the international standards required for Human Rights Commissions is unhelpful. The British government should postpone making any further appointments.

"Sinn Féin's overall concern in all of this is to ensure that the requirement in the Good Friday Agreement for an independent and effective Human Rights Commission is fully realised." ENDS

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