QPol: Northern Ireland and Rigorous Impartiality – Untangling a Constitutional Mess

The QPol logo.

Rigorous impartiality is vital to peace in Northern Ireland. And a Conservative-DUP deal risks “the careful work of decades of peace-building.”

In a June 2017 article for QPol, Professor Colin Harvey of Queens University Belfast looks at the potential impact of a DUP-Conservative deal on the Northern Ireland peace process.

Continue reading “QPol: Northern Ireland and Rigorous Impartiality – Untangling a Constitutional Mess”

Oxford Human Rights Hub: What Price Human Rights and Equality in Northern Ireland?

Human rights are central to the Good Friday Agreement. And Northern Ireland has learned through hard experience “that complacency on rights and equality is not an option.”

In a June 2017 article for the Oxford Human Rights Hub, Professor Colin Harvey of Queens University Belfast explores the state of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland.

Continue reading “Oxford Human Rights Hub: What Price Human Rights and Equality in Northern Ireland?”

Fawcett Society: Letter to Theresa May on the DUP and Abortion Rights

The Fawcett Society logo.

‘We urge you – do not allow the clock to be turned back on women’s rights, and do not turn your back on the women of Northern Ireland.’

The Fawcett Society has, with other women’s organisations, issued an open letter to the Prime Minister on abortion rights. This June 2017 letter has been prompted by the General Election results, itself prompted by upcoming Brexit negotiations and news that Theresa May is seeking to strike a deal with the DUP, a party that opposes abortion.

Read the full letter.

The Great Repeal Bill: white paper and member responses

HM Government

The government published a white paper on Brexit legislation in March 2017. The paper covered 12 key themes, including:

  • Trade: the UK is to come out of the single market and seek a new arrangement and free trade agreement with the EU.
  • Immigration: a new system to control EU migration will be introduced.
  • Expats: the government wants to secure an agreement with European countries on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and Britons living in Europe.
  • Devolution: giving more powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as decision-makers.

The government also included details of its Great Repeal Bill, designed to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and give Parliament the power to adopt parts of EU legislation into UK law.

Download the white paper.

Responses from EDF Associates
Liberty, March 2017

“This white paper has gaping holes where our rights should be. Where’s the guarantee to protect our EU rights so we don’t end up worse off than our neighbours across the Channel? Where’s the guarantee of proper democratic scrutiny?” – Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty

Responses from EDF Observers
EHRC, March 2017

“The government should use this golden opportunity to strengthen our own laws as we leave EU laws behind, including by introducing a constitutional right to equality that will make post-Brexit Britain fairer and more united.” –  Chair David Isaac

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland conference: ‘Expecting Equality’ – 29 November 2016

Equality Commision Northern Ireland ECNI

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is hosting a conference, ‘Expecting Equality‘, on 29 November 2016 at the Titanic Building in Belfast:

“2016 sees the 40th anniversary of the introduction of sex discrimination law in Northern Ireland. To mark this significant milestone, the Equality Commission is hosting an event which will:

  • present the findings of our ‘Expecting Equality’ investigation into the employment experiences of pregnant women and new mothers;
  • launch our good practice guidance for employers on managing pregnancy and maternity in the workplace;
  • highlight the practical experiences of businesses, organisations and trade unions tackling these issues on the ground.”

Law Centre NI conference: Litigating for Social Change – 19-21 October 2016

Law Centre (Northern Ireland) is hosting a conference ‘Litigating for Social Change’ from 19 to 21 October 2016 in Belfast.

This international conference will bring together NGOs, community activists, litigators, academics and funders to reflect on how strategic litigation can transform lives and enable people and communities to realise their rights.

The conference will explore:

  • lessons learnt to date
  • how strategic litigation can be made more effective
  • strategies and models for supporting strategic litigation

Equality Commission NI recommendations on Programme for Government Framework

Equality Commision Northern Ireland ECNI

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland responded in July 2016 with recommendations for the Northern Ireland government on their Programme for Government Framework. Their full response is available along with a key point briefing.

The Commission welcomes the emphasis to focus on the impact on people rather than solely on the actions taken within Government, the emphasis on working across Government and on full engagement and co-design with stakeholders.

Their recommendations include:

  • We recommend that the PfG makes explicit that all relevant PfG measures (and as such all relevant indicators and all outcomes) will be tracked, not only in aggregate, but also for each of the Section 75 grounds.
    Why: While the Framework includes some clear references to equality and good relations, there is a need to ensure mainstreaming of equality across the Framework as a whole.
  • We recommend that the Executive ensures that PfG measures are sufficient to track progress fundamental to achieving stated outcomes.
    Why: In the Framework, ‘measures’ can be much more narrowly defined than their parent ‘indicator’ (or ‘outcome’). For example, the ‘shared space’ indicator is measured only in relation to certain facilities (eg leisure centres). The PfG Framework does not therefore contain any measures on shared space more generally, or in employment, education or housing etc.
  • We recommend that the Department review the evidence base already gathered for the PfG through the lens of Section 75. This evidence should be set out and inform the assessment of impacts via screening and/or EQIA documentation.
    Why: The work and functions of the the Executive Office, including with other Departments and Councils to deliver the PfG, are subject to the statutory equality and good relations duties – including the application of Equality Scheme commitments.

 

Equality Commission NI: five key actions to promote racial equality

Equality Commision Northern Ireland ECNI

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has set out the five priority actions that it considers the Northern Ireland Executive needs to take to promote racial equality in Northern Ireland. They will be making these recommendations to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

1. develop a co-ordinated cross departmental action plan in Northern Ireland to advance racial equality (incorporating clear targets, actions & timescales)
2. set out a detailed timetable for the proposed review of the racial equality and fair employment legislation
3. set out specific timeframes for consultation on, and implementation of, comprehensive ethnic monitoring to improve public policy and service delivery in NI
4. take action to promote respect; tackle racism and discrimination; and address racist hate crime
5. set out the actions to be taken to address key inequalities in education, health, housing, employment and social protection and promotes integration (particularly for marginalised groups such as Travellers and Roma, asylum seekers and refugees

They have produced a report to the list of themes and a key point briefing.