Belfast Telegraph

Call over principles behind rights

The Community Relations Council (CRC) has called for an agreement on the principles behind rights in Northern Ireland.

The limits of negotiation on a case-by-case basis have been reached and it is time to reach agreement on broad beliefs which might provide long-term security for all identities, chief executive Jacqueline Irwin said.

The organisation published its annual report after a year which ended with the signing of the Stormont House Agreement.

Ms Irwin said: "The political agreement in 1998 was hugely important, but it did not mark the end of our journey to peace.

"We believe that our society is reaching the limits of what can be achieved by pragmatic negotiation on a case-by-case basis.

"To move beyond the management of our difference to the acknowledgement of our diversity the CRC believes it is time to enshrine the principles that will form the basis of our collective rights and responsibilities to each other.

"If agreement can be reached on these principles it might provide long-term security for all identities here without prejudice to the wider constitutional question."

Key issues tackled in the Stormont House Agreement signed late last year include the establishment of mechanisms to deal with the legacy of thousands of conflict deaths.

However, less progress was made on the contentious issue of parades and flags.

The union flag has been raised at Craigavon Borough Council's headquarters after councillors voted last night to fly the flag all year round. Before the vote, the flag was flown at the civic centre on designated days.

The Stormont Executive has passed a budget for the next financial year.

The spending plan was voted through by DUP and Sinn Fein ministers at a meeting in Stormont Castle in the face of opposition from the smaller parties, the UUP, SDLP and Alliance.

Striking a budget was a key precursor for the implementation of many aspects of the recent Stormont House political deal on a range of long-standing disputes impacting power-sharing.

In particular, it will mean the Government can press ahead with legislation to devolve the power to set corporation tax powers to the Executive.

The budget also reflects the deal on implementing welfare reforms in Northern Ireland, which was another element of the Stormont House Agreement.

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