Why we need a Bill of Rights

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Received a copy of “Why we need a Bill of Rights: Case studies on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland”, published by the Human Rights Consortium. Contains firsthand accounts, addressing physical access and disability, access to services for people at risk, victims and survivors, community development and human rights, older people and fuel poverty, people with learning disabilities, access to transport, carers, child poverty, and ethnic minorities.

The booklet doesn’t appear to be available online, but a kind email request should do the trick.

I particularly liked the testimony of Alan McBride (pictured), who is Co-ordinator of WAVE Trauma Centre:

“From my point of view as a victim of the conflict … I believe that a strong and inclusive Bill of Rights could be a fitting tribute to all those that lost their lives or lost a quality of life, bearing in mind over 40,000 people suffered an injury in the conflict, in addition to over 3,700 deaths.

“Northern Ireland is changing and let’s be thankful for that. Gone are the days when people like my wife would be murdered just because she happened to be a Protestant in the wrong place at the wrong time, or similarly the random sectarian attack on Greysteel that happened a week later by those claiming to operate on my behalf.

“We may indeed have seen the last of the bombings and shootings or having to be searched before you entered a shop in Belfast city centre, but we have not reached ‘normality’ yet.

“A strong and inclusive Bill of Rights could be another step along the road to the kind of shared society so many of us here believes in. It would be a common set of rights that would apply equally to everyone, regardless of religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status, sexual orientation or disability.

“With that in mind, it is my view that we now have an opportunity that was never there before and may never be there again to guarantee a better future for our children. This is an opportunity to be seized, not lost.”

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