"A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland: Next Steps" (Responses)

Northern Ireland written statement – made on 16th December 2010.

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Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I have today published responses to the previous Government's consultation on "A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland: Next Steps". The responses are available on the NIO website: www.nio.gov.uk.

A total of approximately 36,492 responses were received. There were 232 substantive responses and approximately 36,260 email and mail/freepost mailshots that were sent as part of campaigns by various groups. Individual mailshot responses have not been published on the NIO website due to the high volume received; however, sample versions have been made available.

There was considerable support from human rights and community groups for a wide-ranging Bill of Rights along the lines of that recommended by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. They expressed concern that the proposals in the consultation document fell well short of this.

The consultation also demonstrated opposition to a wide-ranging Bill of Rights and support instead for a more limited set of rights that reflected the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland. This divergence of views was also reflected in the submissions made by political parties in Northern Ireland.

The Government will continue to consider how best to address this issue, but continue to urge all sides to work together to help build consensus on the best way to proceed.