Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson this week launched a specially commissioned legal opinion on the planned repeal of the 1998 Human Rights Act by the British Government.

Speaking at the launch in the Cultúrlann Arts and Cultural centre, Ms Anderson said,

 “The planned repeal of the 1998 Human Rights Act by the British Government will have far reaching consequences for the people of the north of Ireland.

 “The 1998 Act is interwoven completely in the fabric of the Good Friday Agreement.

 “It gives effect to the European Convention on Human Rights and gives citizens direct access to the European Court of Human Rights.

 “The objective to repeal this is an ideological drive from a hawkish Tory government to dilute human rights protections for their citizens and citizens in the north. This threat is made even more real in the context of the BREXIT referendum, due to be held on 23th June 2016.

A Member of the European Parliament Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Ms Anderson continued,  

“The European Convention on Human Rights provides security and protections for citizens in several fields, including the right to life, the prohibition of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment and the right to respect of private life.

 “If you zero in on any one sector of society you can see the importance of the protection afforded to citizens by the Convention.

 “Within the Convention, for example, there are several clauses that relate directly to the provision of rights for persons with disabilities and it has an additional relevance to the north of Ireland as we emerge from a decade’s long conflict in which the state was an actor.  

“There is no question that a dilution of the protections of the Convention could undermine public confidence in the new policing arrangements in the six counties as accountability mechanisms are altered.

MEP for the north, Ms Anderson continued,

 “The repeal of the Human Rights Act would, as outlined in the legal opinion, have negative consequences for the uniformity of human rights standards across the island of Ireland.

 “As one of the guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish government has a duty to defend the peace process and human rights provision is a fundamental principle of the peace process.

“It is essential that the planned repeal of the Human Rights Act is resisted at every juncture and within this legal opinion, I am confident that we have provided a document that will enhance that resistance.” ENDS