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KESS: Informing NI BREXIT Considerations

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Date
Time
13:30 to 15:30
Location
Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Organiser
NI Assembly
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The NI Assembly’s Research and Information Service (RaISe) jointly delivers KESS (Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series) with the Queen’s University of Belfast, Ulster University and The Open University (OU – 2013).

KESS is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, formally partnering a legislative arm of government – the Assembly - with academia.  Aiming to promote evidence-led policy and law-making, KESS provides a forum in which academics present their research findings in a straightforward format, on issues that are relevant to governance in Northern Ireland.  It seeks to bring those findings to the attention of key participants and decision-makers, including MLAs, the wider public sector and others, in a “safe space” that encourages discussion, fosters improved understanding and seeks to enable opportunities for more in-depth engagement in future.


INFORMING NI BREXIT CONSIDERATIONS is the first seminar of the new series and will include the following presentations:

Dr Leslie Budd (OU) - Making sense of Brexit’s challenges to Economic Citizenship

Managing the process of the United Kingdom (UK) exiting from the European Union (EU) for Northern Ireland (NI) is the most complex and challenging one of all the UK territories. It is the only part of the UK with a contiguous border with another EU Member State that is also a member of the Eurozone. The benefits include: an all island of Ireland single market; the second largest market for NI trade; close cross-border Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and economic co-operation; and, a common travel area. If the NI economy is not to be damaged and its economic citizenship and governance undermined permanently, a bespoke Brexit agreement may be an imperative. This presentation analyses the alternative scenarios as club goods and proposes the most efficacious one for NI.

It first analyses the performance of the NI economy and identifies the likely impacts of Brexit in the medium-term. Second, it refers to more spatially distributed key sectors to exemplify the potential consequences of Brexit for the whole of the island of Ireland. Third, it examines how the border between the two parts of the island of Ireland could become socio-economic beyond a physical one. Finally, it assesses how economic citizenship could be altered across the whole island of Ireland and what forms could emerge and their spatial settings.

In this presentation, “economic citizenship” is defined as the inclusion of citizens in the allocation, distribution and stabilisation of resources, to enhance their socio-economic welfare and well-being in the territories they inhabit and shape.  The presentation concludes speculating on the types of governance arrangements that potentially would need to be instituted in order to sustain economic citizenship for both parts of the island of Ireland.


Prof Rory O’Connell (Ulster TJI) and Prof Colin Harvey (QUB) -  Brexit and Northern Ireland: The Constitutional, Conflict Transformation, Human Rights and Equality Consequences (BrexitLawNI)

The BrexitLawNI project is a collaborative project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.  It seeks to examine the constitutional, conflict transformation, human rights and equality consequences of Brexit.  It particularly focuses on six key issues: the Northern Ireland peace process; North-South relations; border controls and free movement in and between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Britain; xenophobia and racism in Northern Ireland; the impact on socio-economic rights; and the wider human rights and equality issues. The project aims to disentangle the many complex questions that have arisen, including the significant legal and constitutional consequences that demand considered reflection.  This presentation will draw on preliminary findings of this project, identifying the legal elements of Brexit with regard to Northern Ireland, and present key apparent related policy and practice implications in a user-friendly manner.


Dr Anne Smith (Ulster TJI) and Prof Colin Harvey (QUB) - The Northern Ireland Bill of Rights in the Context of Brexit

This presentation focuses on an independent funded project (Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust) that seeks to address the issue of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland in the context of Brexit.

A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland remains part of the unfinished work of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement. In response to its mandate under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) delivered the advice on a Bill of Rights to the British Government in 2008. The following year, in 2009, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) responded to this advice by publishing its consultation document. Since 2009 there has been little further discussion between the parties and the government on this specific issue, although it does appear to have re-emerged in the current negotiating process.

This presentation focuses on the preliminary findings of our research project, which includes drafting a model Bill of Rights and holding events to enable key stakeholders to contribute to the project. To respect the remit and context, the model Bill will be based on the NIHRC’s advice, taking the form of Westminster legislation in accordance with the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement.  Drawing upon preliminary findings which are evidence-based, reliable and accessible, this presentation highlights how this work could assist in unlocking the current political deadlock on this issue. It discusses a model Bill that respects the particular circumstances of this jurisdiction as one way to ensure that human rights remain central to the peace process.  Such a Bill would not only strengthen accountability but also further establish good governance and advance the rule of law. This is particularly relevant for Northern Ireland where a Bill of Rights could provide a legal framework in relation to contentious rights issues.

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