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We believe that there now exists a historic opportunity to build peace in Ireland. The start of the talks process is one expression of the great potential which has now presented itself. This process belongs to us all and should be informed by as wide a discussion and participation as possible.
We have witnessed the failure of partition which from the beginning has denied the national and democratic rights of the Irish people and has led to violent conflict in every decade. In sustaining through force a status quo premised on the denial of such fundamental rights all accepted international standards of human rights have been consistently violated. Any negotiated settlement must be based on the realization of those national democratic and human rights. For this reason, we recommend the following charter to all people of goodwill, including the participants at the negotiations.
This charter is not a statement of exclusive rights and upholds the human civil rights of all people equally. Although the denial of national, democratic and human rights has mainly penalized the nationalist population, partition has also denied unionists the opportunity for reconciliation with the rest of the people of Ireland within shared political structures based on agreement and a common civic identity.
We believe that the realization of this charter is the key to reclaiming the restoring the rights of all Irish people. Ultimately, we are committed to enabling the coming together of the people of Ireland in a society which celebrates diversity, and enshrines and affords full human, civil, political, cultural, social, and economic rights to all.
Irish people living in the North of Ireland are entitled to the same full national and democratic rights of Irish citizenship as Irish people living elsewhere in Ireland.
All people living in the North of Ireland are entitled to receive full parity of esteem and equality of treatment with one another. Delivering these fundamental rights is a prerequisite to, and is not dependent upon, any negotiated settlement. This requires that the British Government should act to ensure that these rights are embodied in specific measures of legislation and administration. As an absolute minimum, the following need to be addressed immediately:
- An end to all emergency legislation.
- Root-and-branch reform of all aspects of the legal system, to include reform of the civil and criminal law, the judiciary, the conduct of the courts and the operation of the prison service.
- The establishment of an unarmed, accountable and representative police service that is acceptable to both nationalists and unionists.
- An end to all forms of discrimination and the introduction of explicit, time bounded measures to redress existing inequalities.
- Equality for the Irish language and culture.
There can be no internal solution and no return to Stormont with its in built Unionist domination and denial of democracy and civil rights.
For as long as Irish people are governed without their consent within the UK they are entitled to significant all-Ireland institutions with co-operative, harmonizing, executive and advisory powers, Specifically, the Irish Government must be guaranteed a role in all legislative and executive decisions affecting the lives of people living in the North of Ireland. These all-Ireland institutions should encourage the coming together of North and South and bring about practical co-operation in all spheres.
The British and Irish Governments should encourage the coming together of the people of Ireland and should actively promote the early ending of partition.