Legal profession marks Human Rights Day and European Lawyers Day

Gerry McAlinden QC, chairman of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland

Members of the legal profession are today marking Human Rights Day, an international commemoration of the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Bar of Ireland and Law Society Skillnet will host a special event later today to mark the occasion, focussing on freedom of speech and the lives of refugees.

The event is also being hosted in recognition of the second annual European Lawyers Day, organised by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe to coincide with Human Rights Day.

European Lawyers Day is this year dedicated to freedom of speech.

Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam Ireland, is set to make a presentation on “The Right to be Heard” at the event in Dublin’s Distillery Building at 5pm today. Guests are invited to RSVP to

Meanwhile, Gerry McAlinden QC, chairman of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, said that cases taken to the European Court of Human Rights during the Troubles illustrated “the impact of human rights in Northern Ireland”.

In an article for the Bar website, he wrote: “Today, on World Human Rights day, the Bar of Northern Ireland celebrates the fact that we live in a relatively peaceful society when so many are fleeing their homes and homelands due to war.

“We celebrate the fact that we live in a society where there is a functioning justice system (imperfect as it is). We celebrate the fact that there is an active and lively discourse around human rights, whatever the source and content of those rights.

“And we celebrate the fact that we have the freedom to disagree during such discourse. That, in itself, is something to celebrate when we remember the many countries where freedom of speech and freedom of expression are curtailed.”

In a separate piece republished by Irish Legal News today, Les Allamby, chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), said Northern Ireland’s “future well-being depends on properly dealing with the past”.

The NIHRC publishes its annual human rights report next week.

Share icon
Share this article: