People on the island of Ireland must have their rights, provided for by the Good Friday Agreement, protected in the same way when Britain leaves the EU next year.

That is the view of the statutory joint committee, established under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which considers human rights issues in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

It is recommending that the EU seek a legal commitment to retain the Charter of Fundamental Rights in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

It wants these rights to be enforced by the Court of Justice of the EU in Northern Ireland.

The joint committee is made up of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

It says without putting in place particular safeguards, the EU Withdrawal Agreement risks creating a difference in rights protections on both sides of the border, which is contrary to the Good Friday Agreement.

In a policy statement directed to the Irish and British governments, the statutory body outlines six requirements that it says would meet the obligations of the 1998 agreement.

  • Ensure no diminution of rights within the withdrawal agreement
  • Safeguard the North-South equivalency of rights on an ongoing basis
  • Guarantee equality of citizenship within Northern Ireland
  • Protect border communities and migrant workers
  • Ensure evolving justice arrangements do not water down rights
  • Ensure continued right to participate in public life for EU citizens in Northern Ireland

The committee is also recommending that people in Northern Ireland retain the right to stand and vote in European Parliament elections after Britain leaves the EU next year.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said: "The peace process was built on a shared vision of equal rights and equal respect on the island of Ireland, as framed by the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

"This joint statement sets out how negotiators on both sides of Brexit can ensure that their stated commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement can be carried through to the final deal.

"We are now seeking assurances from the UK and Irish Governments that no rights are diluted as a result of Brexit."