Monday, 30 November 2009

Bill of Rights

The government has just published its consultation document on a Bill of Rights and we can see that it vindicates the stance of the DUP and UUP. Both parties stated that the Bill of Rights Forum and Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission went far beyond the remit given to them and that is acknowledged in the consultation document. As regards the NIHRC report, the consultation document states:

• Over half the rights proposed in the NIHRC’s advice fell outside the remit given in the Belfast Agreement.
• The NIHRC proposals on language rights ‘cannot be said to reflect the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland’.
• Seven of the eight proposals on children’s rights do not ‘meet the criterion set out in the Agreement’.

I was a member of the Bill of Rights Forum and when we made such points there we were told by the ‘human rights sector’ that we were wrong. Later the NIHRC told unionists that they had got it wrong. Well, now the government has given its verdict on the matter.

When the NIHRC produced its report both Jonathan Bell of the DUP and Daphne Trimble of the UUP said that the commission had gone beyond its remit and now the government has vindicated that view.

Surely after such a damning response by the government to the NIHRC report, the position of the chief commissioner, Monica McWilliams, is simply untenable.


  1. All these "human rights" organizations - how, on earth, did we all exist without them 20 years ago?

    Seriously, though, I find most of them irrelevant and the McWilliams one is a waste of taxpayers' hard-earned money. Why doesn't the woman get a proper job? Mind you, if £70,000 were offered to her on a proverbial plate...


  2. There is a good article by Owen Polley on the Bill of Rights on

  3. Tim, 20 years ago someone like didn't need a human rights organisation - of course you find them irrelevant. From your public profile you were clearly from the most privileged strata of society in Northern Ireland and as man, and presumably from a Protestant tradition, you were securely within the two most powerful groups in society. Naturally, any advance in human rights focused on those less fortunate was bound make people like you feel less privileged.


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