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Sinn Féin MLA extremely concerned at loophole in Human Rights Act

9 July, 2007

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has said the loophole in the Human Rights Act which renders private entities "beyond the law" when contracted from public bodies must be addressed.

A recent House of Lords decision has exempted private care homes from the Human Rights Act when they house people under contract to a local authority. Effectively this decision means that residents and their families are unable to use the Human Rights Act to challenge care homes when basic human rights are denied. The decision has more far-reaching implications. It means that private entities contracted by public authorities to deliver a range of services can lay aside the Human Rights Act leaving untold numbers of individuals unprotected from likely or actual abuse.

Ms Anderson, Sinn Féin's Human Rights spokesperson said,

"This decision by the House of Lords will have far-reaching implications for the north of Ireland if not addressed immediately.

The case which refered to a private care home, which was under contact from a public authority, deemed the private care home beyond the remit of the Human Rights Act. This is truly shocking and a matter which needs to be addressed immediately.

This has far reaching implications for the six counties if not rectified. Not only are private care homes in question, rather all private companies. Public authorities such as local government or the prison system, which have a duty to serve the people, unfortunately all too often employ private companies to undertake work functions. If unchallenged private companies could have a "carte blanché" attitude to human rights.

My party colleague Carál Ní Chuilín, a health committee member shall be highlighting this case to Minister Mc Gimpsey. Also my party colleagues have also spoken to Monica Mc Williams, the North's Human Rights Commissioner and her legal team on this matter recently."

Ends /deireadh

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