New British PM and Direct Ruler ‘value Northern Ireland’
New British PM and Direct Ruler ‘value Northern Ireland’


The new British Prime Minister Theresa May has stressed her commitment to maintaining British rule in the north of Ireland amid concern among human rights workers that her appointment will further undermine civil and human rights here.

The new Tory leader was appointed the country’s new Prime Minister by the English queen during her first private audience at Buckingham Palace.

The Windsor royal family confirmed her appointment in the traditional statement: “The Queen received in audience the Right Honourable Theresa May MP this evening and requested her to form a new administration. The Right Honourable Theresa May accepted Her Majesty’s offer and kissed hands upon her appointment as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.”

In her first speech at Downing Street, May confirmed her commitment to enforcing British and unionist control over the north of Ireland.

Speaking outside, she said: “Not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party and that word unionist is very important to me,” she said. “It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Amnesty International’s Patrick Corrigan said Mrs May’s declared opposition to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was a “major concern”. In April, Mrs May said Britain should withdraw from the human rights convention - which is separate from the EU institutions - while remaining in the EU. She said it “can bind the hands of parliament” before rowing back on her call.

Mr Corrigan said he had wider concerns about Mrs May’s “authoritarian and restrictive approach” to human rights coupled with her advocacy of increased surveillance powers.

“The ECHR has been absolutely crucial to many families in Northern Ireland getting proper investigations into the death of their loved ones,” he said.

“Many of the landmark cases in Strasbourg, particularly around the right to effective investigations, have been northern Ireland cases relating to the Troubles, where for decades people were unable to secure proper investigations.”

Amnesty has been closely involved with the ‘Hooded Men’ case, in which the Dublin government is asking the European court to revise its judgment that a group of men interned in 1971 suffered inhuman and degrading treatment but not torture.

Nationalists said on Monday night that Mrs May’s appointment could not be allowed to block progress on truth issues. Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey said the British government needed to lift its “so-called national security veto on disclosure”.

There was also concern over her appointment of James Brokenshire as Britain’s new governor in the north of Ireland. Nationalists noted noted the former ‘Security Minister’ in the Home Office had also voted for the scrapping of the Human Rights Act.

In his first statement, the North’s new Essex-born Direct Ruler repeated May’s commitment to maintaining the union. “I know from my previous visits to Northern Ireland that it is a very special and valued part of our United Kingdom and which has so much potential as a place to invest and do business,” he said.

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