The text of the motion reads:
‘That this Assembly recognises the vital importance that the Human Rights Act 1998 plays in the lives of citizens of the United Kingdom; further recognises the importance of this Act to the Good Friday Agreement and the devolution of policing and justice powers; and rejects any attempts by the Conservative Government to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998.’
Stewart Dickson MLA said: “Since David Cameron first announced plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights, there has been widespread opposition from many groups, including from some leading Tories. The SNP have already indicated that they will not support the repeal of the Act in Scotland.
“However, there are specific concerns in Northern Ireland, as the Human Rights Act is fundamental to the Good Friday Agreement and maintaining confidence in government and justice in Northern Ireland.
“Human rights are key to any democracy and should remain beyond the grasp of executive power. The Conservatives should not be playing politics with something so important.
“The European Convention on Human Rights is a set of universal and inalienable rights conceived after the injustices and horrors of inhuman treatment, suffered by so many people in the era of the totalitarian state in the 1930s and 1940s. The ECHR is in fact one of the key legacies of Winston Churchill and the hard won victory over appalling wickedness in 1945. It defies rational thought that Churchill’s own party would seek to undermine one of his greatest achievements.
“If Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, can be full members, it is a worrying indication of this new government’s priorities, if it is felt too onerous for the UK to comply with basic human rights rulings, and for it to abandon any concept of carrying the torch for human rights internationally. How could we challenge the human rights records of other countries around the world, while at the same time the UK Government seeks to undermine the rights of our own citizens?
“Alliance will continue its unwavering support for the Human Rights Act and will fight any populist and ill-considered proposal to replace it with a ‘Bill of Rights’, where the Tories would get to cherry pick which rights they think are important and which they may cast aside as ‘frivolous’.”