Human rights belong to all and a society based on it can be common ground for all

Posted By: August 09, 2017

Letters to the Editor. News Letter. Belfast. Monday, August 7, 2017

Brian Gormally, Director Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) Belfast BT12

  I refer to Alex Kane’s article on (Why a well-meaning call to find our ‘common ground’ is doomed to failure, July 31).
 He says that because nationalists want this region to be part of a united Ireland and unionists want it to remain part of the United Kingdom, “no agreement [is] possible that Northern Ireland itself can be the ‘common ground’…”

 Yet the reality is that both Unionists and Nationalists live, work and have their being here – the territory of Northern Ireland is either common ground or a battleground.

 This is, of course, the very conundrum that the Belfast Good Friday Agreement set out to solve. It did this by providing an agreed way in which the future constitutional status of Northern Ireland could either be changed or its current status as part of the United Kingdom confirmed and governmental institutions that ensured a place in government for representatives of the two main communities as well as mechanisms to prevent the domination of one community over the other.

 However, it was also necessary to create a society based on human rights and equality that, through the fairness of its governance, could achieve the support, if not the “national” allegiance of all people living within its boundaries. A Bill of Rights was to be one mechanism to do that. Human rights belong to all and the inherent dignity of the human is their foundation. A society based on that concept can be common ground for those who are Unionist, Nationalist or neither.