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NI: As campaigners demand progress, Minister Hanson tells of new round of political party meetings on Bill of Rights

NIO Minister David Hanson has told campaigners that he is to meet soon with Northern Ireland’s main political parties in an effort to move forward on establishing a Bill of Rights.

The news came this afternoon (Thursday 12 February) as campaigners representing over one hundred organisations – all members of the Human Rights Consortium - met the Minister at Stormont Castle. The campaigners - from the Human Rights Consortium, a cross-community coalition campaigning for a strong and inclusive Bill of Rights – told the Minister of their disappointment at the lack of leadership from Government over the last three years.

“In the 2003 Joint Declaration the Government promised to establish a roundtable forum of politicians and civic society representatives to seek agreement of a Bill of Rights,” said Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International, one of the members of the Consortium, after the meeting.

“Since then precious little has happened and the Government has appeared content to let this commitment gather dust. Our message today to the Minister was that it was time for him to show leadership on the Bill of Rights. Other difficulties in the political process should be no excuse for inaction on protecting human rights.

“After all, the overwhelming majority of the people of Northern Ireland, of all religions and none, want to see a Bill of Rights.”
The Minister told the campaigners that he was due to meet with representatives of all five political parties in a series of bilaterals at the end of February and beginning of March and that he remained committed to protecting a wide range of rights in the Bill.

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