The new British Conservative government has launched an ultra-conservative political agenda that could unravel the peace process in six counties in Ireland's north still claimed by Britain.
Tory plans include scrapping the 1998 Human Rights Act, which underpins a key aspect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The GFA peace deal included a measure that Britain integrate the European Convention of Human Rights into law in the six counties, a process included in the Human Rights Act.
The GFA was meant to ensure that European standards on human rights would apply to the north of Ireland. Since 1998, all legislation created by the Stormont Assembly must comply with European law.
Irish nationalists in the six counties have warned the move could spell “chaos” for the north of Ireland and have a deep impact on the Stormont set-up. Social Democratic and Labour Party justice spokesperson Alban Maginness expressed concern that pro-British unionists might seek to exploit the removal of the act to push laws to defend sectarian parades.
The Committee for the Administration of Justice and Amnesty International have warned against the move. The CAJ said it would shatter confidence over policing reform.
“The European [convention on human rights] is absolutely vital in the day-to-day governance of Northern Ireland - to withdraw from it would be a colossal blow to the peace process,” said CAJ director Brian Gormally said.
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams called it a “scandalous attack” on the peace deal. He said repealing the act would be a “grievous breach” of the GFA and would have “enormous” implications for the administration of government, justice, policing, and equality.
[Abridged from Irish Republican News.]