Irish Republican News · September 3, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Tories set to wreck human rights basis to peace deal

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The Tory government in London is to push ahead with a decision to scrap its Human Rights Act as part of its ‘Brexit’ agenda to drag the north of Ireland and Scotland out of the European Union.

Described as “the most authoritarian and regressive decision taken by a UK government in modern history”, the decision means that those in the north of Ireland will lose the ability to defend themselves in Crown courts under the basic rights granted to them by the European Convention on Human Rights.

These include the right to life, the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment, the right to liberty and freedom, the right to a fair trial, freedom of thought and religion, free speech, peaceful protest, and protection against discrimination.

It had been suggested that the Human Rights Act would remain following the EU referendum in Britain. However, Britain’s ‘Justice’ Secretary, Liz Truss (pictured), has now gone on record to state that she fully intends to deliver the Conservative pledge to end the European Human Rights Act. “We are committed to that. That is a manifesto commitment,” she said last week.

These rights underpin the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement in the north of Ireland, but are to be replaced by a pick-and-mix Bill of rights drafted by the Tory government which offer no recourse to European courts.

Sinn Fein’s Kathleen Funchion, Chair of her party’s Good Friday Agreement Committee, has expressed shock that the Dublin government has so far failed to respond.

“As applied to the North of Ireland, the Human Rights Act provides essential safeguards and is a central element of the Good Friday Agreement,” Ms Funchion said. “Any move to end the Act would be a unilateral contravention of the Good Friday Agreement. The Irish Government must, as a matter of urgency, make clear to the British Government that it will not countenance the British government’s attempts to walk away from their commitments under the Agreement.

“The Irish Government cannot be silent on this issue. As co-equal guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement they must act to safeguard the agreements.”

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson warned last month that a repeal of the act could have repercussions for the peace process. She said he party had legal advice that a repeal of the Human Rights Act risked not only breaching the Good Friday Agreement, but would also “lead to a loss of faith in the British government’s commitment to the peace process”.

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