North-South Joint Committee to Focus On Human Rights and Equality Impacts of Brexit in Meeting with Tánaiste

 The statutory Joint Committee established under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement to consider human rights issues in the island of Ireland, will meet in Dublin today to address the human rights and equality impacts of UK withdrawal from the EU.

Simon Coveney T.D, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit, will meet the Joint Committee, made up of representatives of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The Tánaiste is to outline his perspectives on the means of addressing the risks and challenges for people’s human rights and equality as the UK withdraws from the EU.

The Joint Committee will also gather evidence in its meeting, from invited expert academics from Queens University Belfast, Durham University, Ulster University and the University of Birmingham on the specific human rights and equality impacts of the UK withdrawal for people in the island of Ireland.

The Joint Committee meeting, being hosted at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s Green Street offices in Dublin, will consider issues in relation to the UK withdrawal terms, the common travel area, national identity and rights, cooperative justice arrangements and the equivalence of rights under the Good Friday Agreement.

Given the imperative for even greater collaboration following the UK referendum vote, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has also committed additional resources to bolster the Joint Committee’s work. The Committee is hopeful that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission will be provided with necessary support from the UK Government to do likewise.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney stated:

“The Human rights provisions are a fundamental pillar of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the Government as a co-guarantor of the Agreement takes very seriously its responsibility to support the full implementation and realisation of all provisions of the Agreement, including those which require equivalent standards of protections of rights in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

Emily Logan Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The need to ensure that rights and protections guaranteed to people are protected is implicit to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. This Joint Committee has a responsibility to ensure that values of respect for human rights and equality set out within that Agreement, are in no way undermined or weakened within the negotiations, and final UK-EU withdrawal agreement.”

Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission stated:

“The UK government’s decision to leave the European Union has thrown the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreements aim of ensuring an equivalent level of human rights protection across the island of Ireland into sharp relief.  The potential loss of the EU Fundamental Charter of Rights alongside the continuing absence of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland means Human Rights protections could be heading in the wrong direction.  Twenty years on, holding human rights and equality protections remains a vital underpinning of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. We call on the UK Government to put the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on an equal footing with the Irish Commission and provide adequate funding to carry out this vital work.”

ENDS/

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Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

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bdawson@ihrec.ie

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Notes to editor:

The Joint Committee Established Under the Good Friday Agreement

The Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement‘s section on rights, safeguards and equality of opportunities, provides for a joint committee of representatives of Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, as a North-South forum for consideration of human rights issues in the island of Ireland.

The founding statutes of both the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have ensured a formal basis in law for the Joint Committee.

The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, as an international treaty, recognised by the United Nations, laid down a mandate for both national human rights institutions, and the mechanism to ensure strong cooperation between them.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent statutory body, first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998). It is appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.

 

 

 

 

 

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