North-South Joint Committee to meet with NI Under Secretary of State in Belfast

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North-South Joint Committee to meet with NI Under Secretary of State on Human Rights and Equality Impacts of Brexit

The Joint Committee will meet with the NI Under Secretary of State in Belfast this Friday (27th April) to discuss the human rights and equality impacts of the UK Withdrawal from the EU.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Lord Duncan, will meet with the Joint Committee, which was established under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement to consider human rights issues in the island of Ireland, is made up of representatives of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Lord Duncan will provide an update to the Joint Committee on the UK Withdrawal from the EU.

The Joint Committee meeting will be hosted at Stormont House, Belfast, and will consider a list of issues related to the UK Withdrawal, including a Common Travel Area, UK-EU Justice Cooperation, north-south equivalence of rights, and immigration checks. The Committee will also seek to develop its future programme of work.

Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, stated:

We are pleased to host the Joint Committee in Northern Ireland at this crucial time. We welcome the engagement with Lord Duncan, particularly given his role in dealing with the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords. The Commissions recognise the importance of maintaining the equivalence of rights across the island of Ireland outlined in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and the commitment of the EU 27 and UK government to maintain the Agreement. We are keen to see how this can be maintained in practice. Our goal is to ensure no diminution of human rights protections for anyone.

We have outlined in our recent Joint statement how to mitigate concerns around citizenship rights and North-South equivalent equality and human rights protections and we will be raising these issues today with the Under Secretary of State. The Northern Ireland Office has recently approved funding for the Commission to undertake work as part of the Joint Committee. The Government of Ireland has also committed funding to the Irish Equality and Human Rights Commission for this work. Their ongoing commitment to this aspect of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement is recognised. “

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, stated:

“The peace process was built on a shared vision of equal rights and equal respect on the island of Ireland, as framed by the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. The work of the Joint Committee is focused on enabling all sides of Brexit to ensure that their stated commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement can be carried through to the final deal.

“This engagement with Lord Duncan is timely and welcome, coming shortly after the Joint Committee hosted the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney in Dublin.”

Notes to editor:
The Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement‘s section on rights, safeguards and equality of opportunities, provides for a joint committee of representatives of Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, as a North-South forum for consideration of human rights issues in the island of Ireland.

  1. The Joint Committee Established Under the Good Friday Agreement

The founding statutes of both the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have ensured a formal basis in law for the Joint Committee.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

  1. Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.

  1. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
  1. In March 2018, the Joint Committee released a statement on the human rights and equality impacts of the UK Withdrawal from the EU, and also published a commissioned paper on Brexit issues following the 8 December agreement between the EU 27 and UK government.

27 Apr 2018