Platform: Human Rights for All in This Province

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), August 22, 2001 | Go to article overview

Platform: Human Rights for All in This Province


Byline: Lord Laird of Artigarvan.

"The concept of human rights is for everyone" - this may be self-evident, but, on this island, and in the current climate, it is a sentiment which must be re-stated and re-stated. By a process of constant undermining, the idea has been widely accepted, that human rights is an Irish Republic ideal and not available to anyone else. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"Civil and religious liberty" is the corner stone of the Orange Order. What are civil and religious liberties except human rights. The concept of the equality of man, as outlined in the American Declaration of Independence, in 1776, is the determination of Ulster Scots people to seek a new, better and more equal way. Robbie Burns - A Man's A Man For A'That; the Unionist Covenant of 1912 - all outpouring of desire to achieve and hold on to an enhanced state of human rights through equality. The concept is tested by how the smallest and most defenceless section of society are treated. So human rights is for all.

The very composition of the NI Human Rights Commission, its actions, and, of late, the ill-judged comments of the Chief Commissioner, regarding the right of police to defend themselves with baton rounds from murderous attacks, reinforce the view that the Commission has a republican agenda.

The evidence is there and the domination of the Commission by the Committee for the Administration of Justice gives considerable weight to that perspective. Further proof is the fuss some people made at the suggestion that Ken Maginnis - a unionist - should be appointed to the Commission. An own goal by those who have tried to disguise the republican takeover of the NIHCR! This is ground that unionists are, and will, with renewed vigour, claim back. Human Rights, if handled properly, could offer advantages to all in society, in a totally inclusive fashion.

For example, look at a number of issues. The largest forced movement of population, in Western Europe is the removal of Protestants from the west bank in Londonderry in recent years. No official recognition and no facilities to encourage them back. Similarly in Newry and along the border in Fermanagh. This is a major human rights issue.

The use of children in riots against the security forces - an abuse of the young ones by terrorists. The failure to ensure that public appointments are based on equality and parity of esteem. …

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