Northern Ireland Assembly
There's Still Time to Have Your Say on Bill of Rights Consultation
The Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on a Bill of Rights launched its public consultation in November 2020 and since then, more than 1,700 people have responded to have their say on the creation of a local Bill of Rights. With a closing date of Friday, 29 January, people have just a few days left to respond to the consultation’s survey, which is available to complete online, by post or by phone.
Emma Sheerin MLA, Chairperson of the Committee yesterday said:
“The response rate to the consultation has been fantastic. Human rights are freedoms and protections belonging to everyone. It’s important that people who live here can have their say on whether a local Bill of Rights is needed and what rights it should include. The more people who have their say on this important consultation, the more the responses will reflect society.”
Mike Nesbitt MLA, Deputy Chairperson of the Committee yesterday said:
“A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland has been discussed and debated by politicians for many years. We know there have been previous consultations on the same subject, and that some can feel disheartened by the thought of another. However, this consultation will provide us with a sense of how people who live here – whose rights are at the centre of this – feel about a Bill of Rights being created. Is it something that’s needed, and if so, why? These are important questions and this is why the Committee is so keen to hear from as many people as possible, to ensure that everyone’s views are represented.”
Emma Sheerin MLA, concluded:
“The Committee has taken evidence from many experts in international human rights and we are grateful for their assistance. Some of the rights and protections that we have examined are around issues of language, culture and heritage, which can sometimes be politically divisive here.
“While our survey tries to cover a range of issues that could form part of a new Bill of Rights, we want to make sure that we don’t miss anything that you feel is important. So please, tell us what you think, what you feel is essential and let us know if there’s anything we haven’t considered. All responses will be confidential and we look forward to hearing from as many people as possible.”
To request a paper survey or to complete the consultation over the phone email Engagement@NIAssembly.gov.uk or phone 02890 521169.
The Ad Hoc Committee was set up as a result of the New Decade, New Approach document, tasked with examining the issues around the creation of a Bill of Rights here. At the end of the consultation period, the Committee will examine and analyse the responses, take further evidence from human rights experts, and engage and discuss findings and next steps with stakeholders, before publishing its report.
Notes to Editors:
Ad hoc committees are occasionally set up by the Assembly to look at specific time-bound issues. When these committees are set up, the Assembly sets the terms of reference for them, as well as who the members will be and how the committee will operate.
On 24 February 2020, the Assembly established the Ad Hoc Committee on a Bill of Rights, with the following terms of reference:
That, as provided for in Standing Order 53(1), this Assembly appoints an Ad Hoc Committee to consider the creation of a Bill of Rights as set out in paragraph 28 of Part 2 of the New Decade, New Approach document; and to submit a report to the Assembly by 28 February 2022.
Further information about the Committee’s work on a Bill of Rights can be found on the Committee’s webpage.
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