Written answers

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Northern Ireland

Photo of Patrick CostelloPatrick Costello (Dublin South Central, Green Party)
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106. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress that has been made during this parliamentary term on the commitment in the Good Friday Agreement to establish a bill of rights for citizens in Northern Ireland. [59309/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The full implementation and effective operation of the Good Friday Agreement and all subsequent implementation agreements is an utmost priority for this Government. These agreements, as well as the principles and values underpinning them, are at the core of the Government’s approach to peace, reconciliation and prosperity on this island.

A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland is an important provision of the Good Friday Agreement.  As agreed as part of the New Decade, New Approach agreement, an Ad-Hoc Assembly Committee has been established, and the Committee published its research paper on the “Key Issues for a Bill of Rights” in March 2020, and launched a public consultation in May. 

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) was established as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. It is part of a wider package of safeguards to ensure that every citizen in Northern Ireland is guaranteed equal status and equal protection under law. In February 2021, the NIHRC produced a response to the public consultation of the Ad-Hoc Committee, which emphasises that there is a need to harmonise the European Convention on Human Rights, as domesticated through the Human Rights Act, and any proposed Bill of Rights for NI to ensure a complementary interpretation about the meaning and scope of human rights.

At present, the Ad-Hoc Assembly Committee has concluded holding formal evidence gathering sessions on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. The next step, as agreed as part of the New Decade, New Approach Agreement, is for the First and deputy First Ministers to jointly appoint a Panel of five experts to assist the Committee in preparing its report.

As outlined in the Programme for Government, the Government is committed to working in support of the full implementation of the NDNA. A NDNA Implementation Review Meeting is planned for the period ahead, which provides for an opportunity to discuss progress made to date as well as outstanding commitments. 


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