Minister O'Donnell on the Human Rights Commission Bill
Speaking in the Dáil today on the second stage of the Human Rights Commission Bill, the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Liz O'Donnell T.D., said:
"Through the Good Friday Agreement we have set about creating a dynamic rights and equality culture on this island. We know that, for Nationalists, demonstrable progress on these issues will be as vital a sign that a new future built on justice and equality is possible, as progress on the institutional aspects of the Agreement. For Unionists, the functioning of fully independent Commissions, in both parts of the country, will demonstrate conclusively that human rights are for all.
"The creation of a Human Rights Commission in this jurisdiction will make a real impact on the quality of life of all of our people, especially the most vulnerable members of our society. It is the clearest possible indication of the Government's commitment to human rights and of its genuine willingness to take its international and domestic obligations seriously.
"In so doing we will be participating in the active defence of human rights, which over the last fifty years has become a global secular religion, a credo which should permeate good governance in civilised nations. Whether we as Government are dealing with young people or old, well established citizens or newly arrived refugees, prisoners, travellers or the homeless, this human rights perspective will inform and shape our policies for the better."
Note for Editors:
The new Commission will be independent of Government in the performance of its functions. It will keep the adequacy and effectiveness of law and practice in the State under review and will be able to consult international bodies with expertise in the area of human rights. It will recommend to government measures to further strengthen human rights protection and will promote awareness and understanding of human rights issues. It will also be able to prepare and to publish research and to offer assistance to individuals pursuing human rights cases.