“the Commission does not accept this as a genuine effort to increase human rights protections”

Having apparently failed to notice the publication of the NIO consultation paper on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland in their annual report to government – despite issuing a statement at the time – the NI Human Rights Commission, operating cost £1,766,407, has published its considered response to the consultation. From the NIHRC statement

The NIO consultation paper is an inadequate response to what should be in a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. The Commission believes the consultation:
•Demonstrates a lack of understanding of the purpose and functions of a Bill of Rights
•Fails to take appropriate account of international human rights standards
•Appears to be suggesting the lowering of existing human rights standards in Northern Ireland
•Fails to satisfy the minimum common law consultation requirements, and
•Misrepresents the advice given by the Commission

Or, as the UUP’s Danny Kennedy said at the time

Today’s NIO consultation document is a stunning rejection of the frankly ridiculous proposals made by Monica McWilliams and a majority of the NIHRC commissioners. As the document states ‘over half the rights proposed in the NIHRC’s advice’ fall outside the remit given in the Agreement. In regards to the NIHRC proposals on language rights, the NIO document again states that they ‘cannot be said to reflect particular circumstances in Northern Ireland’. On the matter of children’s rights, the NIO document notes that 7 of the 8 proposals do not ‘meet the criterion set out in the Agreement’.

Monica McWilliams and the NIHRC were consistently warned by the UUP that her proposals fell far outside the remit given by the Agreement. These warnings were ignored and rubbished by the NIHRC. Now the Government has vindicated the stance taken by the UUP.

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