Something less than worthwhile







Human Rights Consortium: Rights at Risk: brexit, human rights and Northern Ireland; Belfast, January 2018

It would be an injustice to write an extensive critique to the 132 pages of puffery and hype funded by the ROI’s department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – funding assigned to ‘reconciliation’, apparently.

So the following number of points amounts to a summaries to why this document deserves little of the reader’s attention:

First, the document contains no serious discussion of the 2016 UK referendum, and whether it had legal, as well as political, effect, after the European Union Act 2011.

Second, completely absent is any reference to the fact that the UK’s Supreme Court – in what is generally referred to as ‘the Miller case’ – knocked out all the wishful thinking around arguments about the Belfast Agreement, and UK and ROI membership of the EU. The UK is leaving the UK. The Belfast Agreement is not affected.

Third, there is near hysteria in the document on the impact of human rights, even though:

  • the Human Rights Act 1998 will be untouched by Brexit;
  • the 1950 European convention on human rights will continue to have effect;
  • and the EU charter of fundamental rights (which may well not come over into UK domestic law) was never intended originally to add to human rights protection outside the context of the EU.

Finally, the Consortium might spend its time more usefully in respect of ‘reconciliation’ addressing issues in respect to the principal abusers of human rights in Northern Ireland (republican and loyalist paramilitaries), and the effect of sectarianism (identity politics) on classical rights such as the right to life and freedom of assembly. More attention might be more usefully employed bringing focus on this area of ‘human rights’ – the punishment beatings continue, paramilitarism remains a cancer in Northern Ireland Society.

That should save everyone wasting time trying to make sense of this tome from a redundant body trying once again to make itself relevant.


Austen Morgan