Polling shows public demand stronger rights protections following Covid-19
June 23, 2021
The Human Rights Consortium in collaboration by Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast have published new public polling that has found significant cross-community support for the inclusion of a range of rights in a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.
The polling demonstrates that societal factors such as Brexit, conversations concerning the future of Northern Ireland and the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic have increased support for a Bill of Rights with more than four in five (83%) feeling that following the Covid-19 pandemic, the right to an adequate standard of physical and mental health should be protected in law through a Bill of Rights.
Nearly four in five (78%) believe that it is important that there should be a mechanism in place to ensure that any rights contained in the Bill of Rights should be enforceable by law, and given the wider context and contributing factors of the current political climate, around a third feel that their experiences of Brexit (33%), the Covid-19 pandemic (34%) and conversations concerning a border poll and the future of Northern Ireland (36%) have increased their belief that their rights would be better protected through a specific Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.
This research explores public attitudes towards what a Bill of Rights should contain and has found that a significant majority consider it important to include the following: the right to education (88%); the right to an adequate standard of mental and physical health (88%); the right to adequate accommodation (84%); the right to an adequate standard of living (84%); the right to food (86%); the right to work (83%); and the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (87%).
This new evidence comes at the conclusion of a project with Dr Anne Smith, Ulster University, and Professor Colin Harvey, Queen’s University Belfast, funded by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, that has provided a draft model Bill of Rights as well as a range of research outputs. The universities have collaborated with the Human Rights Consortium to deliver this public opinion polling as the final part of the research project.
The findings once again evidence the widespread public support for the type of Bill of Rights that the Consortium and its members have been campaigning for and it is imperative that this groundswell of support is acted upon and the final process of delivering a Bill of Rights gets completed.
‘Our health is one of the most important characteristics we can possess. It is vital that disabled people in Northern Ireland receive the same level of protection in this regard as all other members of our society. It is our view that this polling shows a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland is the best way to achieve and protect it.’ – Patrick Malone, Disability Action
The Northern Ireland public and civil society have been campaigning for years for this undelivered protection of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement to be realised. The Make Our Future Fair campaign is the current civil society campaign focussed on pushing for the final implementation of a Bill of Rights and these polling results add further weight to that campaign.
The full set of polling results and commentary from civic society organisations on the results can be downloaded below.Tags: Bill of Rights, polling