A New Framework for Agreement, agreed by both the Irish and British Governments in February 1995, describes the shared understanding between them on the parameters of a possible outcome to all-party negotiations. As agreed by both Governments in the Communiqué of 28 February 1996, these negotiations are due to begin on 10 June 1996. In paragraph 50 of the Framework Document, each Government commits itself to undertake the introduction of appropriate legislation in its jurisdiction on the island of Ireland to ensure the further protection of common specified civil, political, social and cultural rights, taking account of their overall responsibilities, including their international obligations.
Both Governments are ready to discuss and seek agreement with the political parties on this matter. Given the strong support which already exists among the parties for a bill of rights or a similar concept, I believe that this will be an important issue in the all-party negotiations beginning on 10 June 1996.
Civil and human rights are, of course, fully protected in this jurisdiction under the Constitution of Ireland and by our adherence to the principal international human rights instruments. However, I confirm that the Government stands ready to give expression to the outcome of the all-party negotiations regarding the protection of rights by introducing appropriate legislation. The Government would not wish to pre-empt these negotiations by introducing legislation prior to the conclusion of the negotiations.