NI Human Rights Chief Commissioner to step down next year

The BBC reports that Monica McWilliams, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission [NIHRC], 2009 total operating costs £1,766,407, is to step down next August – 1 year earlier than planned.  Presumably this year’s budget is already in place?

The BBC report notes

News of [Monica McWilliams’] early departure comes as the Northern Ireland Office seeks 25% funding cuts and blocks additional funding from a US-based charity.

That would be Atlantic Philanthropies who provided £110,000 additional funding for NIHRC’s campaign for their preferred version of a NI Human Rights Bill.

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  • The whole thing was no more than a quango to begin with. It was more hype than good.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    A House of Lords seat is no doubt Monicas if she wants it. Old friend and fellow ex-NIWC candidate Felicity Houston advises on such matters.

  • Mike Scott

    Good riddance. Hopefully the whole Commission goes next,

  • wild turkey

    To implement and oversee required efficiency savings whilst scrupulously safeguarding the human rights of all individuals,
    Paul Priestly as new chair of the NIHRC

    you heard here first

  • Framer

    Why did she get a four year second term anyway from Woodward?

  • Obedient servant? She did not rock the boat? She kept human rights abuse cases of the agenda?

  • iluvni

    12 months more of this pointless oul doll? Thats abusing us all. Who should I complain to?

  • Drumlins Rock


    PS glad to hear Chuck Feeny’s meddling has begun to to curtailed.

  • I agree with a written Human Rights bill although I have disagreed with the way the current bill has been implemented in some cases. The lady has to go and a move to the HOL is not a good idea imo. Money for old rope for the rest of her life???

  • Best news i’ve heard all day – another pig threw out trough !!

    Next the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children

  • alan56

    What has the NIHRC achieved?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The curious thing is that Felicity Houston is on record as wanting the appointments to public bodies to be drawn from a broader cross section of the Communities.
    So the number of appointments will be cut as the quangos are abolished. But no doubt the usual suspects can still scoop many of these appointment on the basis of their “experience”.

  • Kept the printers of glossy brochures in buisness? Has spent a lot of money on catering for its select seminars, meetings and functions. Successfully secured a pay increase for Monica.

  • Sam Flanagan

    Is it true she is Charles Haughey`s cousin?

  • A written Human Rights Charter can only be protected by a written constitution –whatever your view is about whether or not the UK has a constitution –it is not written.

    What the NIHRC spent all its resources on, had it been successful, would be nothing more than glorified legislation. Any UK Parliment could edit or bin it if it choose to.

  • Christy Walsh

    The law no longer stops at Westminster, look to Brussels. European law is written down and both UK and Irish law are subservient to it.

  • Pippakin: The Bill of Rights for NI was subject to UK Parlimentary jurisdiction not Europe.

  • Christy Walsh

    Yes, but UK law is subject to European law…

  • Drumlin Rock

    I have sponged a couple of nice meals of them during their “consultations” then heckled the speaker as they tried to sweet talk us into reviving their farce of a Bill of Rights.

  • Drumlin Rock

    there all are, all Quangos are descended from old Quangus McCrony

  • The UK can make or break whatever laws it chooses. Only when it is in contravention of a European law can Europe intervene. Editting or abolishing a Bill of Rights for Ni is a matter for Uk Soveriegnty only. Foir completeness the Uk can and has derogated from its international obliagtions in the past if the BoR’s fell within european jurisdiction –which it would not.

  • alan56

    Sorry to go off thread DR but what do you think of McCrea’s opening bid?

  • In ten years you are the first person that I have come across claiming to have benifited from the NIHRC’s generosity. Good for you.

  • Christy Walsh

    Surely European law takes precedence? The UK govt has lost several high profile cases.

  • Drumlin Rock

    interesting way of launching a campaign, calling your colleagues lazy, umm. but im sure we will hear more in days to come!

  • Sean Og

    Good news indeed. Let us hope that this useless Quango goes with her.

    The Comissioners for Childern/Old people/Disabled People/ Immigrants should all be abolished and come under the remit of the Equality Commission. One is enough.

    Why not? Too many on the pay role!!

  • It is supposed to take precedence but you misunderstand how European law integrates with Member State law.. A BoR’s for NI would not be European law but would have to conform to EU law. If there was a BoR’s and a UK Parliment decided to abolish it –that would be within its National powers to do without encroaching or contravening any EU law. Europe does subscribe to the ECHR and a BoR’s is said to supplement that. Europe would only concern itself with breaches of the Convention but not of any supplementary BoR’s.

  • Why do you not think all Commissions should come under the HR’s Commission –that should be the more global of them all?

  • Drumlin Rock

    how about having a directly elected commission to cover all of these things 🙂

  • Cynic

    Ok …so what other job has she got then?

    I assume she hasn’t left for no reason

  • If it is the Monica McWilliams I once knew –she can swallow the bile any longer.

  • Granni Trixie


    Surely she will return to UU? I assumed that as they keep a job open for up to six years, this is part of her motivation for leaving early. Dont blame her. But do question why she has to announce her leaving so soon – likely to make her a lame duck?.

  • aquifer

    She failed to deliver us a Bill of Rights to protect us from the ethnic gangmasters, instead setting up a fully funded subsidiary of the irish separatist grievance factory.

    Her efforts to set up a single party socialist state, with the maternal quangocrats in charge and lawyers on welfare, was not so popular as it was up front.

    Good riddance.

  • Framer

    Monica McWilliams was on BBC Radio Ulster this morning in an extended and typically easy interview.

    She said the Atlantic money refusal involved an agenda which, disingenuously, she claimed not to understand. Otherwise her only point was wonderment as to whether the Lib Dems would support the NIO’s decisions on Atlantic and the Bill of Rights.

    Of course, no mention was made by the BBC interviewer of Daphne Trimble or Jonathan Bell disputing NIHRC taking Atlantic money.

    The NIO told Ms McWilliams on 6 July, “Ministers are keen that the independence of the Commission should be protected. They take the view that external funding could risk compromising this independence. They further believe that the Commission’s core legislative functions should be preserved rather than risk being overshadowed by projects which fall outside the scope of what the Commission is funded for via its grant-in-aid.

    As a result of this…Ministers have decided not to grant permission for the £30k of external funding to be received from Atlantic Philanthropies. This decision reflects their concern that such a grant would in turn result in a much larger sum of external funding being offered, which could risk compromising the Commission’s independence and impartiality if it were to be accepted.”

    Remember NIHRC had got £100,000 from Atlantic “to fund work to secure implementation of the Commission’s advice to government on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland” [Monica’s words] i.e. to lobby at Westminster and issue publicity material on its advice to the Westminster government.

    So a private (and foreign) body (Atlantic) was funding a statutory body to lobby the Government to implement the advice it was asked to submit. Untenable behaviour in any system.

    NIHRC’s role was to provide advice not ensure it would be implemented. In the event the Labour government rejected it wholesale.

    And she has now left with the Commission unbalanced and leaderless as the Conservatives see off the remnants of her Bill advice.

  • Granni Trixie

    A key reason to steer clear of AA monies is that in our culture, it is seen as unfair to have a system for awarding grants which is not open to anyone to apply. Instead, its workers identify recepients from their personal knowledge.
    So although I know good causes which AA has helped, particular networks and a political pattern shines through.
    I conclude therefore that, at the very least, it was an unwise strategic decision to accept AA funds, a point I am sure that some Commissions made at the time even if they seem to have been overruled.

  • Cynic

    “She said the Atlantic money refusal involved an agenda which, disingenuously, she claimed not to understand.”

    Well let me explain my concerns.

    First this is a partisan organisation driven by the personal political and social beliefs of its founder. Now those beliefs appear to come from a clear nationalist perspective – no harm at all in that until a state funded Agency that is supposed to be impartial and protect the rights of all takes money from it. This was a serious lapse of judgement.

    Second as I recall it funded many of those ‘restorative justice’ schemes in which young people in Nationalist areas were dragged in for ‘re-education’ to divert them from crime without any of the bother of a proper trial, due process etc.

    Did Monica complain about this? Did she ensure that proper safeguards were in place to protect those rights?

    Indeed. what due diligence on Atlantic Philanthropies did Monica do before taking the cheque and what did it show?

  • Cynic

    She says she has achieved all that she set out to achieve!!!

    Low expectations then

  • lets see what the feeders in the trough get paid

    Monica McWilliams £72,021 for 09 – nice we feeder there

    Another nice we snack

    The Commission is liable for pension contributions of £9,315 to the University of Ulster in respect of the
    year ended 31 March 2008 on behalf of Professor Monica McWilliams (2008-09: £7,436).

    Then she has the cheek to cry about how small her budget is £1.7 million – in her words “70 pence per person in Northern Ireland to defend human rights”

    What the feeder doesn’t say Total staff costs £1 million

    CHEERIO Monica

  • Cushy Glenn



    Lets see Monica work in costs terms – Legal casework costs £111,068

    Not bad out of £1.7 million

    Now lets see how much they eat drunk slept and flew – Travel, subsistence and hospitality £63,359

    So they eat drunk slept and flew half as much as they actually worked !!

    CHEERIO Monica !!

  • Big Maggie

    Poor Monica. Next you’ll be calling her Miss Piggy :^)

  • Drumlin Rock

    thats not fair maggie!

    Miss piggy could at least sing and dance, well sorta…

  • Granni Trixie

    There many issues to explore on this one – so why are some people here opting to ‘play the ball not the man’ with cheao taunts (and where are the PTBNTM police when you want them?).

  • Your words not mine !!

    Shocking waste of money and then for her to come out crying !!

  • i think you mean playing the man not the ball lol

  • Are there going to be any more lame duck commissioners to follow her?

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks for this correction BelfastJJ (freudian or what).

  • They were never balanced to begin with. I suspect there is a lot more to her resignation that she sems prepared to admit.

  • That is alarming. She should never have taken the post in that case.

  • Equally we have seen how hostile the NIHRC originally was toward the human rights of school children v right of protest (re Holy Cross) This saw the shameless conduct of Brice Dickson undermining the childrens case. And then sticking his thumb in his mouth mumbling something about he did not relise secretly liasing with Ronnie Flanaghan was inappropriate.

    There are scores of human rights abuses originating from the Conflict –has the NIHRC came out and objected to any of them? The whole Commission is a scam and was intended as no more than a fraud for votes for the GFA.

  • They also spent thousands each year in travel and accomodation expenses inviting ‘Guests’ to visit them. In all ten years of existance not one human rights abuse victim got the bus fare or a sandwhich to help them in costs in attending Court in Belfast regardless of how penniless they were.

  • Bubbler

    I couldn’t agree with you more – the shameless comments on here about Monica McWilliams rather disgust me. Fine if you are indeed ‘playing the ball’ by voicing your (strong) disagreement with some of the things she’s done, or even the existence of the NIHRC – I may disagree with you, but at least on those levels, we can have a debate.

    However, civil, constructive debate does not exist when you start comparing someone to muppet while conveniently using a pseudonym yourself.

  • Elizabeth Nelson

    Ah, that was meant to come under my own name – rather hypocritical otherwise, no?

  • Cynic

    Surely ‘woman’ not ‘man’

  • Cynic

    Yes…very few Prods

  • Drumlin Rock

    “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment”

  • I meant ‘balanced’ in reason and fair play. The NIHRC is generally just a bunch of self congratulatory wasters who leech of the misery of others.

  • I am using my real name and if you which to read an alternative to NIHRC glossy PR brochures then feel free to examine letters and FoI results:

    I am voicing strong opposition to what McWilliams and the NIHRC have not done.

  • Wasted Ballot

    She will have her face on an election poster come next may, I can feel it…

    Not as if washed up semi politicians haven’t made a comeback before in NI

  • Is she bailing out before she is pushed?

  • Granni Trixie


    If you read my contribution you can work out a big part of the motivation for leaving. I would be v surprised should she return to the formal political arena.

  • GT: In accepting a second term of office I presume she could easily have nogotiated the term being one year less if concern for her job at UU was a major factor in this?

  • Whatever of AA( Atlantic Philanthropies?) agenda it is the NIHRC’s agenda that should be scrutinised. I am presuming on this, and I am sure you will correct me if wrong, are you suggesting that the NIHRC was biased toward Nationalist agenda’s?

    If so ,then I can shed light on my own experience with the NIHRC and I thought the opposite when the NIHRC refused to give me an application form for assistance because I had crossed the border. Rather than recognising both traditions on this island, as was its intended remit, the NIHRC said it had no international remit and thus its refusal to provide the application form. In otherwords across the border is foreign country –who says those kind of things?

  • Perhaps you could be right but then if you read my contributions you will find there are serious shortcomings as to what exactly the NIHRC’s intended role was and the fact it has squandered its time and resources as it has done.

    Unlike an NGO the NIHRC is empowered by legislation to act but I have found it shirked from its responsibilities rather than engaged with them.

    In ten years the NIHRC has not once given me any explanation why it would not/could not/ acknowledge that I had any Convention right to afair trial.

    Only a matter of weeks ago the NIHRC offered to meet with me –I accepted and asked what it wished to discuss with me. Enquiring why the delay in responding the NIHRC has resorted to the hostile silence I have encountered for so many years. They are phoney and while I do not wish to be personal regarding MMcW she is its Chief Commissioner.

  • I have been contacted privately by two seperate members of staff and suspect that there is considerable bickering and infighting internally. Will that play out more before the year is up?

  • I have just learned that Monica is not departing on her own but all Commissioners have handed in their resignations. I did suggest to them about a year ago that it would be the honourable thing for them all to do. I think there are a mixed bag of reasons that have hastened their retreat.

  • Drumlin Rock

    where do you get an application form?

  • As an abuse victim? The NIHRC no longer accept applications as their role is purely hypothetic and practice and theory do not mix.

    If you mean to become a Commissioner –again there are no applications and if there are they are only for illusion purposes –its a previledged position for previledge people –preferably you have to be a bored middle class housewife (of whatever gender) with a desire to do good, can stomach lavish luncheons that involve a lot of wastage.