Public display strong support for rights bill
The submissions made to the consultation, A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland: Next Steps, have finally been released by the NIO.
The details of the responses, after campaigning by civil society, show that more than 34,000 members of the public made submissions supporting the introduction of a strong and inclusive bill of rights for Northern Ireland.
The publication of these submissions was well overdue and very welcome. It proves what the Human Rights Consortium has been saying for years: that there is overwhelming public support for a Northern Ireland bill of rights across both communities here.
Of the 36,492 submissions received by the NIO, we know that at least 34,785 backed the campaign for a strong and inclusive bill of rights.
This evidence is in direct contradiction to Owen Paterson's recent statement that there is a "lack of consensus on a way forward." The consultation responses clearly show that the majority of people in Northern Ireland want their rights protected in a local framework of rights that will hold our public authorities to account.
The NIO and the Government should not confuse lack of political consensus on this issue with lack of community consensus.
Chairperson, Human Rights Consortium