Public support soars for NI Bill of Rights

A whopping 83% of people in Northern Ireland now think that a Bill of Rights is important for the region.

That's the finding of a survey published today by the Human Rights Consortium, a campaign coalition which Amnesty International helps to lead.

The poll, carried out by Northern Ireland's largest independent market research organisation Millward Brown Ulster, shows that support is equally present on both sides of the traditional religious divide, with 81% of Protestants and 85% of Catholics backing the Bill.

The researchers also asked the 1,000+ respondents if they thought it would be important to include a range of social and economic rights in a Northern Ireland-specific Bill of Rights. Over 90% of people, from both sides of the community, felt that this would be important.

The survey marks the highest-ever recorded levels of cross-community support for the Bill. It comes, ironically, at a time when the two main unionist parties in Northern Ireland, backed by the Conservatives, are showing increased hostility to the idea, which was proposed in the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement of 1998, but which has still not been delivered by the UK government.

A public consultation, which had been promised for late-Spring, now looks likely to be delayed by the government until after the summer. Going by the results from today's survey, the public response is likely to be overwhelmingly positive, but will politicians in Belfast and London be willing to listen?

Fuller story at the Belfast Telegraph, while the polling results, broken down by demographic, can be found on the Human Rights Consortium website.

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