Brexit ‘could undermine Good Friday deal’

Brexit could lead to a dilution of human rights protections in the North by undermining the Good Friday Agreement, a joint committee established under the peace accord to consider human rights issues on the island of Ireland has warned.

The signing of the Good Friday Agreement on 10 April 1998

The committee, which consists of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said that without the “urgent implementation of safeguarding measures”, Brexit risks causing a difference in rights protections on a North-South basis which is contrary to the Good Friday Agreement.

The policy statement, directed at both the British and Irish governments, outlines six requirements for the final EU withdrawal agreement to meet the obligations of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

They are:

  • Ensure no diminution of rights within the withdrawal agreement;
  • Safeguard the North-South equivalency of rights on an ongoing basis;
  • Guarantee equality of citizenship within the North;
  • Protect border communities and migrant workers;
  • Ensure evolving justice arrangements do not water-down rights;
  • Ensure continued right to participate in public life for EU citizens in the North.

Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission Les Allamby said any agreement on Brexit must ensure an equivalence of rights for those living north and south of the Border.

“Progress towards a lasting resolution of the conflict in Northern Ireland has been grounded in the provisions of the 1998 Agreement,” said Mr Allamby.

We are concerned that the UK withdrawal from the EU threatens to undermine the Belfast [Good Friday] Agreement by creating uncertainty for human rights protections within Northern Ireland.

“The joint committee statement outlines the areas that need to be addressed to mitigate concerns around citizenship rights and North-South equivalent equality and human rights protections.

“We will continue to assist both the UK and the Irish Governments as we move through this process, as we want the best deal for human rights for everyone in Northern Ireland going forward.”

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