Brexit – human rights and equality

 

Sir, – At this critical moment in the Brexit negotiations, with the focus on the island of Ireland, fundamental questions about human rights and equality are at stake. As activists and organisations working in the area of human rights and equality across the island, we call on all parties to the present negotiations to give written guarantees that the core principles of rights and equality set out in the Belfast Agreement of 1998 are respected.

There must be no regression or diminution of existing human rights and equality guarantees for all people living in Northern Ireland and those rights protected under European Union law must be retained.

The principle of equivalence in human rights and equality protections between both parts of the island, as set out in the Belfast Agreement, must continue to be respected.

The ongoing and fundamental protections provided by the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights must be retained together with the Human Rights Act, 1998.

There must continue to be equality in all areas between persons resident in Northern Ireland who identify as Irish citizens and those who identify as British citizens, including in relation to access to social welfare, health services and education.

The open Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and free movement for all persons across it must be retained.

Nothing in any agreement on future Border arrangements should lead to a more restrictive system of immigration controls within Northern Ireland or on the island as a whole. In particular, no form of ad hoc or targeted controls which are based on, or are likely to lead to, racial profiling should be introduced.

We have raised these concerns with the Irish and British governments and the European Commission in a letter dated December 1st.

We now urge all parties to the current negotiations to ensure that these principles are fully considered at all stages in the Brexit process and that these principles are reflected in any agreement which is reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union. – Yours, etc,

LIAM HERRICK,

Executive Director,

BRIAN GORMALLY,

Director,

Irish Council for

Civil Liberties Committee

on the Administration

of Justice;

EILIS BARRY,

Chief Executive,

The Free Legal

Advice Centres;

KEVIN HANRATTY,

Human Rights Consortium;

PADDY KELLY,

Director,

Children’s Law Centre;

PATRICIA KING,

General Secretary,

The Irish Congress

of Trade Unions;

JUSTIN KOUAME,

Chairman,

Northern Ireland

Community of Refugees

and Asylum Seekers;

TANYA WARD,

Chief Executive,

Children’s Rights Alliance;

SEAMUS McALEAVEY,

Chief Executive,

Northern Ireland Council f

or Voluntary Action;

Dr ANNA BRYSON,

School of Law,

Queen’s University Belfast;

MICHAEL FARRELL,

Solicitor;

COLIN HARVEY,

Professor of Human

Rights Law,

Queen’s University Belfast;

Dr AMANDA KRAMER,

Research Fellow,

School of Law,

Queen’s University Belfast ;

Prof SIOBHÁN

MULLALLY,

Established Professor

of Human Rights Law

and Director of the

Irish Centre for Human

Rights, NUI Galway;

RORY O’CONNELL,

Professor of Human Rights

and Constitutional Law,

Ulster University.

Sir, – Am I alone in finding the use of the term “the Irish Question”, in discussion of the Brexit disaster, somewhat offensive? The term conjures up historical debates in the British Houses of Parliament about how to deal with those rebellious bog-trotters who had only recently learned to walk upright. The correct phrase relating to the problematic, artificial Border, created by England on the island of Ireland, should surely be “The English/EU Border Question” — though that might be insufficiently funny for the script of the latest Whitehall farce. – Yours, etc,

EAMON SWEENEY,

Dartry,

Dublin 6.

A chara, – Donald Tusk’s visit to Dublin must have been like manna from heaven for a beleaguered Taoiseach given the events of the last week that saw him being pitched as weak and wobbly in the eyes of many. He brought tidings of great gladness and joy pronouncing tangible support for the Irish Government over the Irish Border.

This will allow Leo Varadkar to hold firm on the issue and appear to be strong and stable, which, given the last week, will be most welcome.

Across the water, you would nearly have to feel sorry for a beleaguered Theresa May. She cannot catch a break, with Donald Trump misfiring on Twitter, among other woes. To top it off, she now has Arlene Foster to watch.

Brexit can only be solved by strong and stable leadership on both sides of the Irish Sea. – Is mise,

KILLIAN BRENNAN,

Dublin 17.