Alliance comments on Bill of Rights Forum Report release

Alliance Party Justice and Human Rights spokesperson, Stephen Farry MLA has acknowledged the comprehensive nature of the Report of the Bill of Rights Forum in setting out the detailed positions of political parties and civil society on a Northern Ireland Bill of Rights. However, Dr Farry, who was a member of the Bill of Rights Forum, has criticised some parties and sectors for pursuing a maximalist agenda rather than seeking to achieve an outcome that could gain cross-community support.

Dr Stephen Farry stated:

“Alliance continues to be a consistent advocate for a Northern Ireland Bill of Rights. We recognise that the Forum’s report is a detailed piece of work setting out the debate on rights in Northern Ireland, and the position of many of the key players.

“The format and nature of the Forum did not lend itself to brokering an agreed final text. All that was feasible was a process that articulated different positions, and identified common ground.

“Maximalist agendas have been pursued by some parties and sectors rather than attempts made to find formulations capable to achieving and retaining cross-community support, and devising proposals that the Westminster Parliament will regard as capable of being introduced in Northern Ireland, separate from the rest of the UK.

“Alliance has been able to endorse the vast majority of the recommendations, but has a number of significant concerns in critical areas.

“In particular, on matters relating to culture and identity, there is a deep chasm between the parties. Disputes in this area bedevilled the Human Rights Commission. The Forum has not overcome the problem, and there is a quite bizarre resistance from nationalist parties and civil society to giving the people of Northern Ireland the right to determine their own identity.”


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