Patel declines to say GFA-enshrined ECHR 'untouchable' when challenged by Farry

Priti Patel declined to say whether or not she viewed the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) - enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) - as 'untouchable' when challenged by Stephen Farry in the British House of Commons.

The Alliance MP asked the British Home Secretary to give the commitment after several Tory MPs suggested Britain should consider leaving the convention which it ratified in the early 1950s.

The Conservative criticisms followed an ECHR ruling on Tuesday night temporarily grounded a Home Office-chartered plane which had been due to fly migrants from Britain to Rwanda.

Mr. Farry said: "The Home Secretary has avoided giving a clear commitment on the future of the ECHR, so maybe I can ask the question in a different way.

The Good Friday Agreement

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"Over the past week, in relation to the protocol, Government Ministers have stressed their new-found undying commitment to all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement. The convention is hardwired into that agreement. Does the Home Secretary therefore agree that it is untouchable?" he asked.

The minister replied: "Because of the legal proceedings that are taking place and the fact that I am waiting for the Court judgment, which is the right thing to do, I am not going to pre-empt it with any remarks or comments about the ECHR."

The ECHR is explicitly safeguarded within the GFA which pledged: "The British Government will complete incorporation into Northern Ireland law of the ECHR, with direct access to the courts, and remedies for breach of the Convention, including power for the courts to overrule Assembly legislation on grounds of inconsistency."

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The Convention was legislated for through the Human Rights Act 1998.