‘Brexit: Charting a Way Forward’ conference
On Thursday, 15th June 2017 the Human Rights Consortium in partnership with NICVA and with sponsorship from Unison hosted a conference to move the Brexit conversation towards a solutions focused civil society engagement.
Louise Coyle of NI Rural Women’s Network, was a keynote speaker at the event on the issue of ‘Rural Affairs’. Louise began by highlighting the importance of EU funding for rural areas since the 1990s and that 40% of NI population lived in rural areas. There are serious concerns in rural communities about the uncertainty of Brexit and this uncertainty breeds fear for people, communities and businesses resulting in a negative impact on the economy and people’s lives. The information vacuum surrounding the Brexit impact in rural areas heightens this fear. Some of the key challenges include the lack of a unified Executive position on Brexit, budgets and the Border. She then moved on to looking for opportunities in Brexit and emphasised the need for increased visibility of women in the Brexit process; all future: sub committees; special interest panels etc should be gender balanced. Engagement with civil society and rural communities in the development of policy and legislation, taking account of the Rural Needs Act, and NI bespoke rural development programme is necessary. The best way to strengthen human rights in Brexit is with an NI Bill of Rights.