From abortion to coronavirus, Westminster rule is still decisive – if they choose to exercise it

26 Mar

The situation is replete with irony.   In the absence of the Assembly a formerly inert Westminster sprung into life to enact three controversial reforms; on same sex marriage, victims’ pensions (pending) and most controversially of all, abortion. Sinn Fein which only acknowledges any legal British authority over Northern Ireland with the greatest reluctance warmly welcomed Westminster’s imposition of the most radical shift possible from the most restrictive to the most sweeping abortion regulations in these islands; while the defenders of … Read more

Major battle likely over the UK government’s latest Legacy plans.

24 Mar

For those of us who don’t provide an essential service there will be time and energy   to spare for the matters I’ve  already  drawn attention to, such as  the government’s  latest Legacy proposals  produced last week. They abruptly overturned  everything that has gone before, reached after  years of tortuous  gestation and months of consultation,  concluding in July last year. They were contained in a brief statement above the name of the new Secretary of State Brandon Lewis: Reconciliation and information … Read more

What’s in the Coronavirus Bill?

23 Mar

This week the government intends to push its Coronavirus Bill through Parliament. In its “summary of impacts” document, the government states that the bill is “temporary, emergency legislation” which intends to “provide powers needed to respond to the current coronavirus epidemic.” MPs will be expected to grapple with the 300-page bill over the course of a few days. It will, for as long as it is in operation, fundamentally change our way of life. The legislation represents the biggest diminution … Read more

Commemorating the RIC and allowing an Irish Language Act are opposite sides of the same coin

7 Jan

 RTE The Irish government’s decision to commemorate the RIC in a major state ceremony is the right one precisely because it is as controversial as it is fundamental.  The modern Irish state was born in insurgency and revolution is always controversial. But it is s also a reminder of that the state born out of revolution was part of a much longer continuum that is not about revolution only. And as Varadkar and Flanagan have pointed out,  there is  an … Read more

Boris’s Brexit deal is on the way to being passed – but there are a few areas where we need to keep vigilant

20 Dec

The General Election result finally removes all the sophists, timewasters, and referendum-poopers who have been metaphorically gluing themselves to the Brexit bus. It also provides a double mandate for the Conservative Party leadership. An unambiguous Boris majority quashes any prospects for Labour and Lib Dem guerillistas. Their referendum-repudiating manifesto turned them into oath breakers – […]

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Human rights: the Union’s best friend

4 Dec

The resolution of rights issues could help pave the way for a return of devolved government in 2020. What needs to be faced – by unionist parties above all others – is that Northern Ireland only has a long-term future if it can become a society that people of all backgrounds are happy to call home, knowing they and their rights will be respected. Those in favour of Northern Ireland having another 100 years, should start looking for ways to make it a beacon for human rights.

A limited amnesty not only for soldiers but for all? Another case of a Boris Johnson election wheeze, without understanding what he’s proposing?

11 Nov

The High Court in Belfast On Armistice Day Boris Johnson is announcing what he would like to think sounds like a partial amnesty for former soldiers involved in the Troubles as well as foreign engagements like Iraq and Afghanistan. The subject is of course emotive but the substance is far from clear. What does the proposal to draw a line under Troubles prosecutions really mean? Mr Johnson said the party will introduce legislation to ensure the Law of Armed Conflict … Read more

Watch: Kumi Naidoo on Climate, Rights and Human Survival #BIAF19

9 Nov

Speaking a couple of weeks ago in Belfast, Amnesty International’s secretary general Kumi Naidoo picked up the title and theme of the UN’s New York summit in September – Climate, Rights and Human Survival.

Now and Then

21 Oct

TW: This article contains references to sexual and domestic violence. On the 24th October 2017, the UK Supreme Court considered Northern Ireland’s abortion laws. The case was taken by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. In its judgment on the 7th June 2018, the Court found that the Commission did not have standing to take the case but found, obiter, that Northern Ireland’s laws breached Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The High Court in Belfast made … Read more