Northern Ireland Bill of Rights moves a step closer

You can read a work-in-progress version of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum's proposals over at Mark Devenport's BBC politics blog.

There is a lot more work still to happen before close of business on Saturday afternoon / evening when the Forum's work will end and a final report goes off to the printers, ready for handing over to Prof Monica McWilliams of the NI Human Rights Commission on Monday afternoon.

While there is no consensus on all the proposals (no-one really expected there to be), there has been a remarkable degree of agreement achieved since the Forum started meeting in earnest in early 2007. People have held their nerve around the Forum's table despite scare stories in the media and grandstanding in the Assembly, and have come up with proposals for a Bill of Rights worthy of that title, while also working to accommodate dissenting views.

After Monday's handover, there will be more steps and, undoubtedly, more obstacles along the path, but the Bill is significantly closer this evening.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Aideen Gilmore of the Committee on the Administration of Justice for her excellent work in representing the human rights NGO sector on the Forum with such dedication and intelligence.  Well done too to all the other Forum reps, from political parties and civil society, who have given over a lot of unpaid hours during the last 15 months to get to this point.

More background info at the Human Rights Consortium.

Update: final Bill of Rights Forum report and correction to report now available.

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