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Human Rights Act 'must not be scrapped': Alan McBride

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 15/11/2016

Campaigner: Alan McBride
Campaigner: Alan McBride

Repealing the Human Rights Act could jeopardise the peace in Northern Ireland, a victims campaigner whose wife was killed by an IRA bomb over 20 years ago has warned.

Alan McBride has thrown his weight behind a new public awareness drive urging the Government not to scrap the Act in the wake of Brexit.

Ten people, including Mr McBride's wife Sharon and father-in-law Desmond Frizzell, died when republican terrorists detonated a bomb at a fish shop on Belfast's Shankill Road in October 1993.

He said: "Repealing the Human Rights Act could damage the hard-won peace we've fought for in Northern Ireland. If people are now going to start tampering with decisions that were made in the Good Friday Agreement, I think we should all be very frightened."

Amnesty International's new campaign aims to highlight the role of the Human Rights Act in the Good Friday Agreement which ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland in 1998.

It was also key during the inquest into the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster in which 96 people died.

Amnesty plans to unveil huge billboards and screens at sites across the UK with mobile billboards in Belfast and London as well as newspaper and online advertisements.

Professor Monica McWilliams, a lecturer in the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University who was one of the negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement, also pledged her support.

She said: "We would never have contemplated that the Human Rights Act would be in jeopardy at any stage. It was a building block of our agreement.

"To take this away from Northern Ireland is just absolutely shocking."

Meanwhile, research commissioned by Amnesty found that most people (74%) did not know about the role the Human Rights Act played in the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

One in two (49%) who expressed a view reported that they would be worried if the repeal of the Human Rights Act led to a need to redraft the peace agreement.

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