Belfast Telegraph

Rights Act repeal would 'be attack on peace deal'

By Michael McHugh

The repeal of the Human Rights Act would be a fundamental attack on the Good Friday Agreement, a lawyer has said.

Its possible replacement by a British Bill of Rights is expected to be announced in the forthcoming Queen's Speech at the state opening of Parliament on May 18, Niall Murphy from KRW Law said.

Its "dangerous" impact on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles is to be addressed in a report published today.

Mr Murphy said: "The repeal of the Human Rights Act is a fundamental attack upon the core values of the Good Friday Agreement 1998."

The report said a move to restrict the application of human rights standards to "serious cases" would fall below the minimum standards in the convention. It also warned:

  • The current proposals would deprive those considered to have "trivial" claims of a remedy before the domestic courts for breaches of their European Convention on Human Rights protections;
  • The Good Friday Agreement explicitly includes the ability of the courts to override Assembly legislation on the grounds of inconsistency. If this were diminished in any way, for example by limiting the courts' ability to take into account Strasbourg jurisprudence, there may be an arguable breach of the agreement.

Mr Murphy added: "The Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, is of core importance in the work we undertake on behalf of our clients and, more significantly, a lodestone for the out-working of the cross-border and internationally endorsed Belfast Good Friday Agreement 1998."

Today, solicitors from the firm will be at the House of Commons for the launch of a co-authored report - Repeal Of The Human Rights Act: Implications For Northern Ireland.

It was commissioned by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group of the European Parliament and co-authored with lawyers from Doughty Street Chambers.

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