The Workers’ Party has published a major submission which it made to the Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland as part of the consultation process “A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland: Next Steps”.
John Lowry, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party, stated that the introduction of a comprehensive Bill of Rights was of fundamental importance if democracy was ever to be truly embedded in Northern Ireland.
“In the absence of a written constitution” said John Lowry “only a comprehensive Bill of Rights provides the solid foundation which guarantees the rights of the citizen and underpins full democracy”.
“We in the Workers’ Party have placed the demand for a Bill of Rights as the centrepiece of our political agenda for four decades. We hope that this process means that it is now genuinely on the table. We believe that the purpose of a Bill of Rights is to establish and guarantee the relationship between citizens and the state. We believe that a Bill of Rights must form the cornerstone of democracy as the guarantor of the civil liberties of all citizens and of the political rights of all political parties, groups and individuals prepared to work through the democratic process. Such a Bill must enshrine fundamental principles constituting a clear statement about the nature of any political institutions established and operated in Northern Ireland”, said Mr. Lowry.
“The Bill of Rights would operate as a mechanism to permit political life to flourish and would act as a solid foundation for the democratic process. To that end a Bill of Rights must provide a positive statement of the rights which each citizen can expect and demand of the state and it must provide the means whereby those rights will be protected and enforced if they are infringed”.
“The Workers’ Party is an actively anti-sectarian party. While we supported the Belfast Agreement at the time it was with serious reservations given the sectarian edifice upon which it was to be constructed. We challenge the institutionalised architecture of sectarianism reproduced in the Belfast Agreement and given flesh in the current devolved administration. We are fundamentally opposed to any proposal which would have the effect of ensuring that the sectarian division at Assembly, Executive and local government level would be replicated and entrenched in a Bill of Rights”.
“The creation and implementation of a Bill of Rights” concluded John Lowry “remains an urgent priority and must not be further delayed or diminished.”
Issued: Tuesday 2nd March 2010.