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Title: From political agreement to social justice : examining the case for constitutionally enforceable social and economic rights in Northern Ireland
Author: McGuinness, Esther
ISNI:       0000 0004 2727 1783
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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The Belfast Agreement marked a political solution designed to end thirty years of violent social upheaval in Northern Ireland. One aspect of the proposed solution was the commitment to draft a Bill of Rights specific to Northern Ireland to 'supplement the rights contained within the ECHR.' The recent dismissive reception by the UK Government of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission report containing recommendations for such a Bill of Rights demonstrates that their initial commitment seems to have substantially, perhaps irretrievably, faded. The document was largely dismissed on the twin grounds that such rights as it described were relevant to the UK as a whole and in any case by their nature not reducible to justiciable form, since this would abrogate the democratic accountability of the legislature. Underlying both objections are basic ideas about the constitutional status of Northern Ireland in the wider UK context, and the correct constitutional relationship between the legislature and the judiciary. This thesis, with the acknowledged purpose to keep the debate alive, revisits this territory of the case for constitutionally enforceable economic and social rights for Northern Ireland. It first seeks to examine whether there are indeed economic and social 'circumstances particular to Northern Ireland' that require a separate approach, irrespective of how this debate is or is not pursued in a wider UK context. It then examines the general issue of the justiciability of economic and social rights, both as a conceptual matter and as an aspect of developing international law. Analysis is then made, over two chapters, of case study jurisdictions which bear particular resonance to Northern Ireland, and, through these case studies, an expanded concept of 'reflexive constitutionality' is developed. In the fifth chapter this concept is then re-applied to the Northern Irish case. The overall conclusion is that the case for constitutionally protected economic and social rights for Northern Ireland is, in social and legal terms, a strong one, and that the current lack of political will is a misguided short-term approach that risks aggravating still prevalent social tensions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available