15 years since Good Friday Agreement signed - UK government yet to deliver on promised Bill of Rights
Ahead of an event in Westminster today, organised to mark 15 years since the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement Amnesty International said the delay in delivering a Bill of Rights was unacceptable and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland must act now.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International said:
"Last week President Obama spoke in Belfast about the urgency of delivering on the outstanding peace commitments. That urgency has been woefully lacking.
"The people of Northern Ireland have already waited 15 years since they voted for the Agreement for the UK government to legislate for this Bill of Rights.
"There is a binding international commitment in the Agreement to deliver a Bill of Rights particular to the circumstances of Northern Ireland.
"Get it right and it could provide a framework for addressing difficult issues such as flags, parades and dealing with the past. Yet, the government is acting as if they need do nothing to make this commitment real. The Secretary of State appears to be running away from her responsibility to fulfil the Agreement.
"We want the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to convene a process which will lead to legislation for a Northern Ireland Bill of Rights during the period of this government. Enough time has been lost already."
In advance of the event the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Vernon Coaker MP, highlighted the importance of delivering the Bill of Rights, a vital component of the Agreement.
Vernon Coaker said:
"The Good Friday Agreement was one of Labour's proudest achievements in government. All of us need to secure its legacy for the next generation in Northern Ireland. I continue to support efforts to take forward an agreed Bill of Rights as an important part of building peace, progress and prosperity in every community."
The event will take place in Dining Room A, at the Palace of Westminster at 1pm today. For more information, contact the press office.