Bill of Rights entrenches sectarianism says Alliance

Alliance Party Justice and Human Rights Spokesperson, Dr Stephen Farry MLA, has expressed concerns over the recommendations of the NI Human Rights Commission for a Northern Ireland Bill of Rights, including the fear that the proposals will further entrench sectarian divisions.

Stephen Farry stated: “As a liberal, internationalist party, Alliance has always been a strong supporter of human rights, and a Northern Ireland Bill of Rights. While we are studying the detail of the Commission’s advice, we have a number of concerns.

“First, these proposals will further entrench sectarianism in Northern Ireland . Rather than acknowledging the reality of a diverse society with open, mixed and multiple identities, these proposals further entrench the fallacy that everyone here must be pigeon-holed into two communities. These proposals would further entrench the flawed institutional structures of government, at a time when there is a groundswell of support for significant changes.

“Second, these proposals suffer from over-reach. The lessons from the experience of the Bill of Rights Forum have not been taken on board. Alliance does support stronger protections in terms of rights of access to services, but we fear some of the socio-economic proposals will create unrealistic expectations. Furthermore, they cannot be delivered in a discrete manner for Northern Ireland alone.

“The process of drawing up a Bill of Rights is inherently political. Given the divided nature of our society, it is important that a sufficient cross-community support is sustained. The Commission’s proposals may prove to be counter-productive in this regard.”


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