Media Release, 11 July 1995

Forum to discuss the economic benefits of peace and the protection of rights

The Forum for Peace and Reconciliation will, on Friday, 14 July, hold its final meeting before the summer recess at which it will consider three topics - the protection of rights, the economic benefits of peace and obstacles in the South to reconciliation.

Protection of Rights

On Friday, at 9.45 am, the international human rights expert, Dr Asbjorn Eide, who is Director of the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights, will present the results of his study entitled A Review and Analysis of Constructive Approaches to Group Accommodation and Minority Protection in Divided or Multicultural Societies. This study, commissioned by the Forum in March 1995 as part of its work on ways to ensure equality of treatment in Northern Ireland, surveys existing international practice regarding the safeguarding of group rights in societies where cultural or ethnic differences exist. It seeks to apply lessons gleaned from international law and actual practice in relevant countries to the situation in Northern Ireland.

In his study, Dr Eide notes that the duality of identity existing in Northern Ireland is also found elsewhere and that it does not have to cause intolerable strain in society. He calls on all communities, be they a minority or a majority, to work for a situation in which rights can be enjoyed by all, including those who do not belong to their own groups. He counsels against further physical separation between the communities in Northern Ireland, pointing out that international experience, for instance in Bosnia, provides a frightening illustration of the dangers to be avoided. The report deals with constitutional, legislative and administrative arrangements for ensuring the protection of rights in divided societies. When it has been completed following the discussions at this week's meeting of the Forum , it is intended to publish Dr Eide's work alongside another study on fundamental rights being carried out on the Forum's behalf by Professor Kevin Boyle, Professor Tom Hadden and Dr Colm Campbell. This latter study is due to be completed in the Autumn.

Economic Benefits of Peace

On Friday at 11.00 am, the Forum's economic consultants will introduce their report on The Social and Economic Consequences of Peace and Economic Reconstruction. The report will be presented to the Forum by the team responsible for its production, Mr Raymond Burke of KPMG Consulting, Mr John McEniff of Fitzpatrick Associates, Mr Ronnie Scott of the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre and Mr Colin Stutt of Stutt Consulting, Belfast. Their report examines the benefits of peace under two scenarios, (i) a continuation of the ceasefires and (ii) agreement on a political settlement. It assesses the impact of each of these scenarios on economic growth, investment, employment, tourism and security expenditure.

On Thursday, 13 July at 3.00 pm , the consultants will give a special advance press briefing on the results of their study. This briefing will be held at Dublin Castle.

Obstacles in the South to Reconciliation

During its afternoon session, beginning at 2.15 pm, the Forum will hear a progress report on the work of its Sub-Group on Obstacles in the South to Reconciliation which has been discussing such matters as the Constitution's religious and historical references, and its provisions on education and on the position of the Irish language, as well as national symbols (the flag and the anthem) and anti-discrimination legislation.. The sub-group is working towards the completion in the Autumn of a report on obstacles in the South for approval by the Forum.

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