[Sinn Fein]

11th June 2003

Anger over Government's minimalist approach to acts of completion under GFA human rights provision

Following the passage of the European Convention on Human Rights Bill, Sinn Fein Spokesperson  on  Justice,  Equality,  and  Human  Rights  Aengus  Ó Snodaigh TD expressed   his   growing   consternation   over   the  Minister  for  Justice's self-declared  war  on  a rights-based society - and particularly his minimalist approach  to  the  Government's  implementation of the equality and human rights aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.  Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"Today,  with  great  reluctance - and unanimously with all the other opposition parties  - the Sinn Fein deputies voted against the European Convention on Human Rights Bill tabled by this Government.  We did so following vigorous and unified opposition  attempts  to remedy the Bill's major deficiencies, about which there was  consensus  not  only among the opposition parties but also within the human rights  sector  in  this  state.   Ultimately, we used our vote to underline our belief that the Government's approach was unnecessarily minimalist and seriously flawed.   We  also  used  it  to  draw a line in the sand with this Minister for Justice in his self-declared war on a rights-based society.

"Make  no  mistake.   Sinn  Fein  want  the  European Convention on Human Rights properly  incorporated  into  law, and we fought for it to be included among the Good  Friday  Agreement  provisions.   But we cannot abide the minimising of the Agreement's  equality  and  human  rights  provisions  by  ANY party - no matter whether it is the Unionists, the British Government or this state.

"The  Government's  flawed  ECHR  Bill  is just a single instance of an emerging pattern  of denial and erosion of the principles of human and equality rights in this state - in particular since this Justice Minister took office.  The reality is  that this Government is systematically undermining the rights-based approach to  politics that was enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement and endorsed by the vast majority of people on this island .

"In   insisting   on  passing  a  minimalist  Bill  the  Dublin  Government  has substantively  failed  to live up to their own commitments under the Good FridayAgreement."   ENDS  

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