by JULIE-ANN SPENCE
South African guest Professor
Kader Asmal, Fiona McCausland from the Old Warren
Partnership, Maggie Beirne from CAJ with Lagan
Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and members of the Old
Warren Partnership during Mr Asmal's visit to the
OLD Warren Partnership extended a warm welcome
to a very special guest last week, when South African politician
Professor Kader Asmal paid a visit to the area.
Professor Asmal saw first hand the hard work
going on in the estate to bring together the diverse and ever
He also met with local community workers
involved in human rights work, and specifically on the proposed
Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.
Professor Asmal has been a Member of
Parliament in the National Assembly of South Africa since 1994
and was a founder member of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement
in 1960, as well as founder and chairperson of the Irish
Anti-Apartheid Movement from 1969 to 1990.
He was also a member of the African National
Congress' negotiating team at the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum
and was instrumental in campaigning and implementing the South
African Bill of Rights, hailed as the leading light of Bills of
Rights around the world.
Professor Asmal said he was very impressed
with the work being carried out in Old Warren and stressed the
need for a Bill of Rights in Northern Ireland. "A Bill of Rights
is an attempt to ensure people are comfortable because when they
are comfortable they don't reach for guns," he said.
"Political parties must accept it is in their
interests to have a Bill of Rights beyond the reach of
politicians and parliament. "Ultimately it's a safeguard for
individuals and that's why we need to have it." Mr John McStea,
Chairperson of the Old Warren Partnership, said everyone in the
Partnership had been inspired by Professor Asmal's visit and
would continue to work to make everyone welcome in the area.