‘Dump Bill of Rights’ - DUP

The DUP said on Tuesday that plans for a Bill of Rights for the north of Ireland should be scrapped.

A Bill of Rights was part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but has yet to be implemented.

The bill was envisaged to protect fundamental rights and freedoms including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, to education or to good health care.

A forum which was established to find agreement on what should be included, submitted its findings to the Human Rights Commission in 2008. A consultation paper on a proposed Bill of Rights was launched by the British Secretary of State Shaun Woodward last December, but it was rejected as inadequate by Sinn Fein.

The DUP meanwhile claimed that unionists had been the defenders of human rights and democracy in the North of Ireland.

“The DUP will not defend an expensive and unnecessary grievance charter which would remove decisions from the people, waste public money and distance Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK,” it said this week.

It said a huge range of issues had been advocated which were “neither unique nor peculiar” to the Six Counties.

“It is little wonder nationalist politicians are so keen to embrace this erroneous interpretation as it helps to distance our laws and policies from the rest of the UK and becomes in effect a badge of difference,” the DUP said.

Last week, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness discussed proposals for a bill of rights during a meeting in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

On Wednesday, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights Martina Anderson handed over Sinn Fein’s formal submission to the consultation.

She said Sinn Fein demanded that a “meaningful process” be put in place to implement a Bill of Rights that is “worthy of the aspiration of all in our communities for a rights based society that offers protections for the most vulnerable and respects the diversity of our community and has equality at its very core.”

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