‘5 Tests’ for the Protocol Deal – Press Release
February 27, 2023
The Brexit and Human Rights Working Group, convened and chaired by the Human Rights Consortium, has released their ‘5 Tests’ for the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol Deal, focusing on the key commitments on rights and equality protections contained within the Protocol.
A fair Protocol deal to protect human rights must:
- Make no changes to Article 2 of the Protocol, including to the Directives listed under Annex 1, unless these changes strengthen or expand the protections contained therein.
- Develop common regulatory frameworks between the EU & NI, particularly in areas of equality and human rights and in policy areas enabling North-South Cooperation.
- Ensure that Northern Ireland, and UK-wide, courts have full access to case law of the Court of Justice of the EU, particularly regarding EU equality and non-discrimination law such as those within Annex 1.
- Maintain protections for the Common Travel Area and North-South cooperation.
- Confirm that future legislative undertakings by the UK Government will not diminish or undermine their ability to uphold commitments made in Article 2 of the Protocol.
Kevin Hanratty, Director of the Human Rights Consortium, said:
“These 5 Tests must be met in order to secure the full human rights compliance of any proposed deal.”
“Civil society organisations and communities across Northern Ireland are concerned with the regressive and deregulatory agenda of the UK Government, particularly on human rights issues.”
“The vital protections contained within Article 2 of the Protocol were intended to assuage some of those fears, and ensure that such a backslide on rights in NI would not occur. Any regressive changes to the implementation or interpretation of the Protocol could put those protections at risk.”
Alexa Moore, Research Officer at the Human Rights Consortium, said:
“While most of the public and media discourse on the Protocol has focused on its implications for trade, the important protections it contains on human rights have been left out of the conversation.”
“The Protocol contains a commitment by the UK Government to ensure ‘no-diminution of rights in Northern Ireland as a result of Brexit’, while also mandating that NI ‘keeps pace’ with various EU Directives focused on equality and non-discrimination.”
“We are concerned that any regressive changes, particularly around the Court of Justice of the EU, could have negative ramifications for these human rights commitments.”
You can read the full 5 Tests and accompanying information in the document attached below.
For further comment or interview request, please contact Alexa Moore, research officer, at:
Mobile: +44 (77) 2572 9166
Notes to Editor:
The Human Rights Consortium is a human rights charity and coalition of civil society organisations from across Northern Ireland which was established in 2000. Our membership includes 165 member-organisations from a range of community and voluntary grassroots groups, NGOs, and Trade Unions, drawn from all sections of the community and all parts of Northern Ireland. We work together towards the development of a human rights based Northern Ireland.
The Brexit and Human Rights Working Group is a group of organisations including community groups, human rights organisations, trade unions, and other Consortium member-organisations who are focused on Brexit and its impact on human rights.
Article 2 of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland contained a UK Government commitment to “ensure that no diminution of rights, safeguards or equality of opportunity, as set out in that part of the 1998 Agreement […] results from its withdrawal from the Union.”
Article 2 refers to Annex 1, which contains a list of EU Directives with which Northern Ireland must ‘keep pace’ with, covering areas such as equal pay, maternity provision, disability discrimination in employment, and others. Any changes or updates to these Directives, including changes in how the CJEU interprets the Directives. must be reflected in Northern Ireland law.