On this page, you will find all the policy papers, reports and commentaries we have written up on various dimensions of Northern Ireland governance issues in the 21st century.

Discussion Paper on Brexit.

This report examines the impact of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) upon human rights and equality issues. Brexit will significantly re-orientate both Northern Ireland’s (NI’s) established human rights structures and the inter-connected human rights’ infrastructure and relationships across Ireland and the UK.

It was written by Colin Murray, Aoife O’Donoghue and Ben Warwick for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Mr Colin Murray is a Senior Lecturer at Newcastle Law School, Newcastle University, Professor Aoife O’Donoghue is a Professor at Durham Law School, Durham University, and Dr Ben Warwick is a Lecturer at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham.

The views expressed within this paper do not necessarily represent the views of the Commissions, nor the employers of the authors.

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Commentary: Joint Report on Phase 1 of the UK/EU Negotiations.

We published our immediate reaction to the Phase One agreement in the form of an annotated account of the Report. Three key issues are central to understanding how this Report changes the dynamic of Brexit insofar as it impacts on Northern Ireland: they are, first, the categorisation of individuals, second, the difference between EU rights and freedoms, and third, the role of consent in any change to the status of Northern Ireland.

Policy Paper: Northern Ireland and the Brave New World of Brexit.

With October 2017 witnessing the beginning of consideration of amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill and the culmination of efforts to address aspects of Brexit affecting the island of Ireland in Phase 1 of the UK’s withdrawal negotiations, this paper is intended to focus on some of the emerging issues for Northern Ireland as the contours of Brexit become increasingly defined.

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The Common Travel Area: Prospects After Brexit.

Maintaining the Common Travel Area that has existed between the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man has been set down by the UK Prime Minister as one of her government’s 12 key negotiating objectives. In this note, some of the functions of the CTA are described, and the possible threats to it from Brexit are explored. It is concluded that the flexibility and informality of the CTA means that while maintaining it in name is relatively easy, changes to its substance are likely. Close scruntiny of any changes to the reciprocal nature and substantive provisions of the CTA are therefore essential to assessing the success of this aspect of the UK government’s negotiations.

“There is no appetite for the return of the fortified border posts which were so emblematic of the Troubles. However, in choosing their words carefully, ministers have sought to reassure the Northern Irish public on the most extreme outcome (the hard border) while neglecting to address the other possible day-to-day impacts which Brexit will have on the island of Ireland.”

Policy Paper: Brexit, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

There are many very specific ‘Irish’ dimensions to current political debates surrounding potential ‘Brexit’ which are not being addressed in detail (if at all) by the Leave and Remain campaigns.  This policy paper aims to shed light on these aspects of Brexit, so as to inform interested voters.  The paper also engages directly with policy makers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, so as to ensure that future negotiations with Westminster and/or Brussels regarding both the EU referendum take full account of the specific ways in which their jurisdictions will be affected by the changes.

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The Place of Northern Ireland within UK Human Rights Reform.

Considerable speculation has surrounded the impact of the Good Friday Agreement’s provisions on human rights upon the Conservative Government’s proposals for repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998. This Policy Paper seeks to demystify this aspect of the debate over the future of the Human Rights Act, examining the terms of the Good Friday Agreement as an international treaty and peace agreement and explaining its interrelationship with both the Human Rights Act and the Devolution Acts. Once some of the hyperbole that surrounds the Agreement and its attendant domestic legislation is removed, it can be seen that the impact of the Agreement is in some regards more extensive than has to date been recognised, whilst in other respects the Agreement has less impact than some of the supporters of the Human Rights Act claim. Reform of arrangements so fundamental to governance in the UK should not be taken lightly, but at present the offhand treatment of the place of the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Northern Ireland settlement generates just such a danger.