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Brexit threatens common human rights space on the island of Ireland, says PACE committee

Political Affairs Committee meets in Paris

PACE’s Political Affairs Committee has urged the United Kingdom to ensure that Brexit does not result in any diminution of rights for the people of Northern Ireland, warning that the withdrawal from the European Union had “reignited deep-seated tensions in Northern Irish society, furthering political division and contributing significantly to the paralysis of devolved institutions”.

Approving a preliminary draft resolution by George Katrougalos (Greece, UEL), the committee said that Brexit had “shaken the delicate balance created by the peace process and threatened the common human rights space previously shared by all people on the island of Ireland”.

The recent bill to overhaul the 1998 Human Rights Act had “exacerbated the situation”, the committee pointed out, and there were also “serious concerns” regarding the compatibility of the Northern Ireland Troubles Legacy and Reconciliation Bill with the Convention.

While the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol has had an overall positive economic effect on Northern Ireland, the committee noted that “the related rhetoric has been divisive” and used as a pretext to hold public institutions in Northern Ireland hostage.

The parliamentarians urged the UK to “reaffirm its commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights” and, as regards the Protocol, to “refrain from unilateral actions which undermine international law”.

The committee also called on authorities and political forces in Northern Ireland to “return to power-sharing immediately.”

Both the UK and Ireland should work together in a “cooperative, constructive and forward-looking spirit” to deal with the legacy of the Troubles, and make implementation of the Good Friday Agreement “an utmost priority”.

The report is due to be debated by the Assembly – which brings together parliamentarians from the 46 nations of the Council of Europe – on Wednesday 12 October during its autumn plenary session in Strasbourg.