DUP rejects NIHRC Bill of Rights report

The Democratic Unionist Party has rejected the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission report on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. In a hard-hitting statement, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said that the Commission had “taken the foolish Bill of Rights Forum recommendations and made them worse”. Mr. Donaldson also noted that there was no democratic legitimacy attached to the Commission recommendations. Jeffrey Donaldson said:

“At every stage in this process the DUP has made it very clear that the litmus test for any Bill of Rights will be the degree of confidence which it can command across the entire community in Northern Ireland. When the Bill of Rights Forum presented its report to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Chief Commissioner, Monica McWilliams some time ago, we made it clear that the contents of that report were entirely unacceptable to the pro-Union community.

The DUP and UUP members of the Bill of Rights Forum dissented from huge tracts of the report, as indeed did members of the Alliance Party. The Northern Ireland Assembly called upon the Commission to ensure that their report was capable of attracting cross-community support – they have demonstrably failed to heed that call.

It is truly bizarre to see that Monica McWilliams has actually taken the foolish Bill of Rights Forum recommendations and made them worse. Again, individuals with a Unionist community background, this time represented on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, have withheld their consent from the document presented by Professor McWilliams today. These proposals have not one scintilla of democratic legitimacy and cannot command the support of the entire community in Northern Ireland.

Examining the report presented by the NIHRC it is clear that they have failed to adhere to the remit which was given to them. The Bill of Rights was supposed to have a special focus on rights provision which reflects the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland. The dog’s breakfast produced by the NIHRC does not do this and instead reads more like a 1970s left-wing domestic policy wish-list. It is for politicians with a mandate from the people to make policy decisions – not unelected quango members or the courts.

At the time that the Bill of Rights Forum reported, the DUP rejected the use of a Bill of Rights as a Trojan Horse for the political prejudices of some of the forum members. It is clear that not only have those biases made it into the NIHRC report, but they have been expanded by the former Women’s Coalition leader and some of her colleagues.

The DUP wants a Bill of Rights that can command the support of everyone. This document is not it and therefore must be confined to the waste-paper basket where it belongs.”

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