Northern Ireland lawyers share rule of law concerns over UK migration bill
Senior Northern Ireland lawyers have shared concerns over the impact on the rule of law of the UK’s proposed Illegal Migration Bill.
The bill, which is currently before the House of Lords, was the focus of the inaugural event hosted by The Bar of Northern Ireland’s new rule of law committee, which took place this week to coincide with World Refugee Day.
The event heard from an expert panel of Claire Hanna MP, Ronan Lavery KC, immigration solicitor Sinead Marmion, Helena Wilson BL, NI Human Rights Commission chief Alyson Kilpatrick and Peter Lavery of the Law Centre NI.
The panel was chaired by Bernard Brady KC, chair of the rule of law committee, and the event was opened with general reflections on the rule of law from the Lady Chief Justice, Dame Siobhan Keegan.
The panel was unanimous in identifying rule of law concerns with the Bill, specifically in the context of the removal of judicial oversight, compatibility with ECHR obligations and an erosion of access to justice.
Mr Brady said: “This panel event afforded an opportunity to provide reasoned reflection, debate and evaluation of the provisions of the Illegal Migration Bill.
“The contribution of the panellists was insightful, diligently prepared and unanimous in the view that Bill gives rise to significant Rule of Law and humanitarian concerns.
“The discussion serves as a reminder of the importance of the Rule of Law and the fundamental principle that the law must apply equally to all and that public officials must not exceed their powers.
“I would like to thank our panellists for lending their time and expertise in contributing to the inaugural Advancing the Rule of Law event, focusing on an important, relevant and timely issue.”