Tag Archives | Human Rights

Abortion law is pawn in a Tory-SNP power game

The Herald reports that the Conservatives are thinking about devolving abortion law to Scotland where a strong Catholic lobby is opposed to the 1967 Act. What the point of doing it unless the aim is to repeal it? Not necessarily apparently. It’s really about the power game between Westminster and Holyrood, not about little matters more…

Conversations about the future require candour, not platitudes

Because of a clash of commitments I’m having to miss out on the Westminster launch on Tuesday of  Uncomfortable Conversations: An Initiative for Dialogue Towards Reconciliation  edited by the Sinn Fein chair Declan Kearney.  It will follow a similar launch in the Linenhall Library in Belfast  which Sinn Fein covered on YouTube in April. It more…

Panorama on collusion: Does Trevor Ringland support coverup?

Trevor Ringland’s criticism of Darragh MacIntyre’s Panorama on collusion for rewriting history with a political slant is misguided.  The documentary  gave examples of  a spectrum of collusion ranging from loose handling of informers to covering up agents who were multiple repeat killers, sometimes with the foreknowledge of their  handlers.  Much of the material is in the de Silva more…

Game of Thrones vs real life: 5 ways fact is worse than fiction

Greyworm, leader of child soldier army called the “Unsullied” Photo: HBO / Sky Atlantic

Guest blog by Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research, Amnesty International The long-awaited fifth season of Game of Thrones begins on Sunday 12 April. Filmed in Northern Ireland (and elsewhere) and broadcast in 170 countries, the show shocks viewers and generates controversy with graphic violence, especially against women. Yet many aspects of real life around more…

O’Loan calls Stormont House Agreement ” an insult” as Labour promises a Pat Finucane inquiry

Amnesty International are not alone in finding the resources allocated in the Stormont house Agreement inadequate for dealing with the past. At a meeting of RightsWatch  in Westminster last night,  the first Police Ombudsman  Baroness Nuala O’Loan  was scathing, describing the allocation of £150 million over 5 years to deal with all the issues of more…

After the Stormont House Agreement, will the latest initiative to bring state actors to account become the one that succeeds?

The UK government stands accused of continuing  to cover up state misbehaviour in a humdinger of a Report just published by the legal experts of the  Committee on the Administration  of Justice. The report is the supporting analysis for  renewed pressure on the authorities who have pledged to set up “ new mechanisms” in the form more…

Signs of real politics emerging from Stormont House Agreement

Be grateful for small mercies. With less than a hundred days to go before the election, implementing the Stormont Hose Agreement has had the effect of postponing the worst kind of  dog-eat -dog  sectarian  campaigning – so far. Sinn Fein like the rest of them have had to swallow the basics of the Welfare Bill more…

Spreading the word in the Irish language requires a new beginning

I thought I’d tiptoe into the minefield of the “Irish Language Act”, an area where the massed ranks of persuadables risk getting wasted by the zealots, but here goes. Concubhar is right, there should be a mature discussion. I’m one of those who shrugged off Gregory Campbell’s leaden humour and hoped that most language supporters felt more…

It’s the economy, stupid. Not a federal Ireland

In the Irish Times Paul Gillespie floats the idea that the North might benefit by a federal deal with the south. He invokes the useful hand played by the Republic in the recent Stormont House agreement. Certainly Charlie Flanagan waxed more eloquently than Theresa Villiers but that isn’t saying much. I discern a much bigger more…

NI Human Rights Festival (8-13 Dec): drones, lectures, libel and Snowdon #NIHRF

NI Human Rights Festival logo

Some highlights from the programme of Northern Ireland’s third Human Rights Festival which is running next week from 8th to 13th December. Tuesday 9 December From War to Surveillance: Human Rights and Drones // 7-9pm // St Mary’s University College // Free // Professor Noel Sharkey (University of Sheffield) specialises in robotics and the ethics more…

Chief Constable at #DignityAndRights conference: Delay increases hurt & erodes trust in PSNI’s ability to deal with past

Dignity and Rights logo

What is Northern Ireland’s vision for progressing and protecting human rights in Northern Ireland in the years ahead? How do the principles of participation, accountability, transparency, dignity and equality underpin human rights? Dignity and Rights: A framework for the future is a two day conference running in the Stormont Hotel in East Belfast, jointly hosted more…

Commemorating a pioneering humanitarian, five centuries on

Woodcut by Theodor de Bry, taken from a 1580s printing of Las Casas's "Short Account"

Commenting on Roger Casement’s campaigning work on behalf of the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, the author Joseph Conrad said in a letter to the Scottish politician R B Cunninghame-Graham: ‘I have always thought that some particle of Las Casas’s soul had found refuge in [Casement’s] indefatigable body.‘ Casement himself, in his pre-1916 work more…

New GCHQ head takes on Google over the terrorist threat

In the FT today, (£) Robert Hannigan now the new head of GCHQ  whom I knew well as the NIO  director of communications,  has opened a new chapter in the debate over privacy versus security in the digital world. He accuses the technology giants of being in denial about the internet as a command and control more…

Hong Kong: the spirit of freedom

HK protest 30 Sept

As far as the eye can see, young pro-democracy protestors have taken to the streets of central Hong Kong to demand the right to elect freely the next chief executive of the territory. The students’ speeches, songs and placards celebrate the freedoms they want to enjoy. Beijing has announced restrictions for the 2017 election – which more…

Gaza: listen to Warsi & UK could help wage peace, not war

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Baroness Warsi’s hard-hitting resignation letter to David Cameron has served to focus attention on the UK’s policy on the carnage in Gaza. The former Foreign Office minister says her resignation was prompted by the government’s “morally indefensible” policy – one of arming the Israelis, while pressuring the Palestinian Authority not to seek justice through the more…

EU statement on abstention from #UNHRC #Gaza vote

Even with no immediate end in sight to the violent Israeli assault on Gaza, one dimension of the post-ceasefire landscape is already clear. Despite the global connectivity offered by social media and the public platitudes of political ‘leaders’ it is clear (and has been for a very long time) that the international diplomatic architecture is more…

“Gay cake” case may prompt top level legal rethink

The life story of Andrew Muir, the mayor of North Down is part of Northern Ireland’s long journey towards civilisation – including the fact that as an openly gay person he made it to mayor at all. It was his Bangor reception that sparked the Great Cake Discrimination Case. Even so, the case may not more…