Written Answers. - Human Rights in Northern Ireland.

John Bruton


25 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the proposals, if any, he has to give effect to the undertakings which were given in the joint propositions document that appropriate steps will be taken to give an equivalent level of protection here to that to be given by the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights in domestic law of Northern Ireland; and if he proposes to amend Articles 40 to 44 of the Constitution for this purpose. [3743/98]

Ruairí Quinn


45 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress, if any, made at the all-party talks on the proposed Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland; the implications, if any, that arise for this State from this proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3890/98]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 45 together.

The Government regards the enhanced and systematic protection of human rights as a key element in a comprehensive settlement arising from the all-party process. This was set out clearly in both the Joint Framework Document and the Propositions on Heads of Agreement. The perception among large sections of the population that their basic civil and political rights were infringed contributed significantly to the instability over the years in Northern Ireland.

There is, at present, ongoing discussion in the talks process as to how the above commitments can be translated into practical effect. While it is not possible to prejudge the outcome of the talks, I emphasise that the Government is fully committed to taking the necessary action in our jurisdiction to give effect to whatever measure of agreement is achieved in these negotiations.