/Human rights: Commission highlights ‘year of drift’ after Stormont suspended
Human rights: Commission highlights ‘year of drift’ after Stormont suspended

Human rights: Commission highlights ‘year of drift’ after Stormont suspended

Les Allamby

Image caption

NI Human Rights Commissioner Les Allamby has warned about the impact of deadlock at Stormont

Human rights issues have been left to drift because of the Stormont stalemate, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Launching its annual statement, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission highlighted a lack of progress in 2019.

The report points out areas that require immediate government action.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby said the absence of an assembly had had practical consequences beyond politics.

He said the crisis around healthcare provision, rising poverty and homeless figures in Northern Ireland were cause for concern.

Figures from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism showed 205 people who were homeless in Northern Ireland died in a recent 18-month period, which is is more than a quarter of all homeless deaths in the UK during that period, according to the report.

Mr Allamby said: “Behind every death is an individual story and a wider tale of society’s failure to properly protect vulnerable people.

“Our 2019 annual statement demonstrates that not one human rights concern has been effectively resolved in Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland has been without devolved government since January 2017 when the assembly collapsed amid a bitter row between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin.

Talks resumed on Monday aimed at getting it up and running again.

Mr Allamby welcomed changes to abortion law, the introduction of same-sex marriage and redress for victims of historical institutional abuse.

But he said many other issues affecting victims’ rights, housing and healthcare remained unresolved.

“The UK government has a legal obligation to tackle these outstanding human rights issues, outlined in today’s report, without hesitation,” he said.

“We now wait to see the impact of the new government in Westminster and we hope the ongoing Stormont talks will bring about the much needed restoration of the NI executive.”

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will attend Tuesday’s launch.