Thursday, May 28, 2009

British rights for British citizens- no more, no less.

I think DC must have been reading my submission to the N.Ireland Select Affairs Committee;)
Conservative leader David Cameron has categorically ruled out a separate Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland if he becomes the next Prime Minister.

In implicit criticism of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's (NIHRC) proposals, Mr Cameron said that it was undemocratic to take power from politicians and give it to unelected judges.

Exactly the point I made...although, to be fair, it was a glaring weakness evident from even a cursory glance at the piece of nonsense served up by the McWilliams Clique.

We should start off from the base that we believe in the protection (as far as is humanly possible) of everybody's rights within our society:
"It is important the rights of everyone in our society are protected," he said.

"But Conservatives and Unionists do not want to take power away on issues such as social and economic policy from democratically-elected representatives and hand it over to unelected judges.

"That is not good for democracy."

Moving on from that base, it was up to those who believed N.Ireland needed a completely separate Bill of Rights to make a strong enough case to prove their point.
They didn't, they instead simply relied on the "Just because" defence. "Poverty", "abuse of employment rights", "freedom of speech", to take just three examples, are not areas peculiar to Northen Ireland and so Cameron's proposal here makes much more sense than a fully separate bill:
"We are proposing that any Northern Ireland-specific issues are best dealt with in a sub-section of a UK-wide Bill of Rights and Responsibilities - protecting rights and respecting the role of democratically-elected representatives."

The NIHRC's response was interesting:
A spokesman for the NIHRC said: "We were given our mandate under the terms fo the Belfast Agreement and have adhered to that mandate in full.

"The Agreement was quite clear, that additional rights reflecting our particular circumstances, taken together with the European Convention on Human Rights, should constitute a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland."

Key word there "additional", followed closely by the phrase "particular circumstances"- certain areas in the rest of the United Kingdom suffer from exactly the same problems as certain areas within Northern Ireland, therefore "poverty", for example, does not constitute a "a particular circumstance" for Northern Ireland and does not therefore require "additional" powers to be dealt with outside what should be available in the rest of the United Kingdom.

The right to live free from paramilitary influence, or women's reproductive rights* are however two areas which do reflect the particular circumstances existing in Northern Ireland- the NIHRC should have restricted itself to such topics. If it had, then their present, desperate, backs to the wall, defence wouldn't have been necessary and we might well have been on our way to a more specific and appropriate Bill of Rights in Northern Ireland.

* The NIHRC's attitude towards this topic is particularly interesting with regards to why they felt it didn't need to be included within their advice. Read more here.

Further relevant information and analysis can be found in my posts here and here, in Chekov's post here and in the report of Professor Liam Kennedy's blistering attack here.

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