UHRW Response to Secretary of State – ‘There was an Alternative’

It is with some surprise that the Ulster Human Rights Watch heard the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland say ‘no-one has presented him with an alternative to the Government’s Legacy Bill.’

Since 2017 UHRW has committed to taking part in all public consultations on the UK Government’s proposals to deal with the legacy of the past.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, stated: ‘On each occasion our organisation submitted proposals for an alternative. In 2018 UHRW opposed the Stormont House Agreement proposals and submitted detailed proposals for an alternative. These proposals were based on fundamental principles and a definition of victim of crime that were in compliance with Northern Ireland legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights.’

‘It is the sad reality that despite all the representations made, the UK Government has chosen not to take into account balanced proposals that were human rights compliant.’

‘Since September 2022, when dealing with the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, UHRW have submitted 13 proposed amendments and 2 recommendations in order to make the legislation human rights compliant. Some of these proposals may have influenced minor amendments that were introduced in the House of Lords. However, the Secretary of State has not upheld them in the House of Commons.

Axel Schmidt added: ‘It is therefore not accurate for the Secretary of State to say that no-one presented him with an alternative. There was an alternative, which was to support legislation that upheld human rights in a democratic society, while opposing terrorism and preventing the history of the Troubles from being re-written.’

‘It is regrettable, that the Secretary of State deliberately decided not to use the alternative and it is likely that the legality of the Legacy Bill, once given the Royal Assent, will need to be challenged in Court in the non-too-distant future.’

Administrator Recruitment – Closing Date 29 September 2023

Ulster Human Rights Watch wishes to recruit an experienced part-time Administrator to support its Advocacy Service for innocent victims of terrorism. Role will be based in Brownlow House, Lurgan.

Salary: £14,645.33 pa

Hours per week: 20

As a charitable company formed in 2002 and a major human rights organisation in Northern Ireland, Ulster Human Rights Watch seeks to promote human rights and the Judeo-Christian interpretation of such rights, advance education in human rights, and support the enforcement of the law. The UHRW Advocacy Service provides assistance to families who have unresolved historical cases from the Troubles and wish to obtain information or request further investigation.

The Administrator will be required to provide clerical, marketing and financial administrative support to the Ulster Human Rights Watch Advocacy Service. This will include monthly financial and non-financial monitoring returns, procurement, payments, and clerical oversight of the client database.

To apply please download the following:

Candidate Information Booklet

Application Form

Equality Monitoring Form

Closing date: Friday 29 September 2023

UK Government should consider taking Republic of Ireland to Court over legacy failings

Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) is urging the UK Government to consider taking the Government in Dublin to Court over its ‘outrageous failings’ on legacy.

Earlier in the month, the Republic of Ireland Government warned that it could take a case against the UK in the European Court of Human Rights because of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

The Lurgan-based human rights body says it is hypocritical of the Irish Government to adopt such a threatening stance when it itself refuses to legislate on the vexed issue of the past.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “We don’t like what is being pushed through Westminster, but the threat from the Irish Government rings hollow.

“The Irish Government seems to want it all their own way, yet they shy away from shining a light on what the Republic of Ireland did and didn’t do during the ‘Troubles’. One has to ask why the reluctance? Why are they opposed to dealing with the legacy of the past and what are they so determined to hide?

“Their hands are far from clean when you consider the number of barbaric attacks that were planned and launched from the safe haven across the border. For decades the terrorists walked freely and even today, there are people living there who were never made amenable for their crimes. A case in point is the self-confessed gunrunner and former priest, Father Patrick Ryan.

“What we see here is a hypocritical stance being adopted by Dublin, one that is unbalanced and disingenuous. Irrespective of whether the Republic of Ireland carries out its threat of taking the UK Government to the European Court of Human Rights, the UK Government should give urgent consideration to launching legal proceedings of its own against Dublin over its outrageous failings to allow terrorist murderers and bombers to escape justice and carry out vile acts in Northern Ireland against innocent victims.

“Dublin needs to be given a strong message that it appeared to have been complicit in what was done in the name of Irish republicanism.”

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