Newstalk
Newstalk

09.26 23 Jan 2019


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The current Brexit proposals create risks for people on both sides of the Irish border, an Oireachtas committee has been told.

The Joint Committee of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), which was established under the Good Friday Agreement, is today appearing before the Justice and Equality Committee.

The organisations say there are "seven distinct areas where significant gaps remain" in the protection of human rights and equality under the proposed Brexit withdrawal deal - a deal whose future remains uncertain after it was rejected by MPs last week.

The gaps include uncertainty over citizens' rights, the legal basis for the Common Travel Area, the UK’s decision to no longer be bound by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and possible future divergence on rights protections.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the IHREC, said that commitments were made in 1998 to "respect and protect" human rights and equality of opportunity.

She observed: "Since 1998, there has been substantial progress towards a lasting resolution of the conflict in Northern Ireland, grounded in its human rights and equality provisions. 

“Although the UK Government has stated its commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement ‘in all its parts’, Brexit negotiations currently depart from that common framework, creating risks for people on both sides of the border, when it comes to both the rights and remedies available to them.”

Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the NIHRC, added: “We want to preserve existing protections alongside at least keeping pace with human rights and equality protections as they develop within the EU in the future."

It comes amid mounting concerns over what would happen at the border between the Republic and the North if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

The Tánaiste yesterday admitted it will be “very difficult” to prevent a return to a hard border if there's no deal.

Simon Coveney was speaking after the European Commission’s chief spokesman said it was “pretty obvious” that a hard Brexit will lead to a hard border in Ireland.


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