McWilliams is new Human Rights commissioner

Monica McWilliams, a former mover and shaker behind the Womens Coalition is expected become the new Human Rights Commissioner. Up to seven other commissioners are expected to be announced today. It’s thought she has a tough task ahead to turn the fortunes of a body that has seen multiple resignations and more than its fair share of flack from all sides of the political equation.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    Oh that’s fantastic. Isn’t the main criticism of the HRC that it’s trying to do too much and overstepping it’s remit? Does anyone see her turning this around?

  • neill armstrong

    Its a very sad day when Monica McWilliams has been appointed to this body a failed politician who has been rewarded with a top job which should have been filled with someone who was neutral.

  • fair_deal

    Nice to see the NIHRC continues in its tradition of two fingers to Unionism

  • fair_deal

    Nice to see the NIHRC continues in its tradition of two fingers to Unionism

  • Doreen

    Another case of jobs for the boys…. and girls this time.

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    Nice to see the NIHRC continues in its tradition of two fingers to Unionism

    Fair Deal

    It’s typical of unionist bloggers that they see any body who isn’t an avowed unionist as partisan or against them. Is Monica McWilliams a card carrying member of SF? No. But because she’s not a unionist cheerleader, her appointment has to be resisted.

    Incidentally I notice the name of Jonathan Bell, the organiser of the Long March, the self styled campaigner for ‘human rights for Protestants’ among the other appointees.

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    Nice to see the NIHRC continues in its tradition of two fingers to Unionism

    Fair Deal

    It’s typical of unionist bloggers that they see any body who isn’t an avowed unionist as partisan or against them. Is Monica McWilliams a card carrying member of SF? No. But because she’s not a unionist cheerleader, her appointment has to be resisted.

    Incidentally I notice the name of Jonathan Bell, the organiser of the Long March, the self styled campaigner for ‘human rights for Protestants’ among the other appointees.

  • steve48

    the guys at folks on the hill must be doing handstands.

  • Mick

    FD, it would be useful to hear you roll out an argument in support of your uncharacteristically blunt statement!

    OC, I’d argue that given the varied patterns of dialogue on Slugger, there is no such thing as a typical unionist (or nationalist) commenter.

    On a minor technical point there’s an important difference between bloggers and commenters. I know the two terms are commonly used here interchangeably. But they are not the same.

  • Jo

    There is a lot of very predictable criticism of Monica on this thread, I believe totally without justification. Those who DO NOT believe that a HR Commission has any value are of course entitled to that view.

    I found her a helpful and effective political representative and am more than willing to give her a fair wind in this position.

    What possible evidence would there be for claiming that she is not as close to “neutral” as anyone else? I suspect that a lot of criticism will be demonstrably based on the same sort of mysogyny as she experienced in the Assembly.

  • Newbie

    Mick,
    I am fairly new to the whole internet thing and new to Slugger (which I do enjoy reading). Could you explain what is meant by blogging, and the difference between blogging and commenting etc. … – Cheers

  • fair_deal

    On the general point the NIHRC has never faced up to its credibility problems from day one. Their approach to political management to gain party political and community support has been poor going on disastrous. This degree of ineptitude was exemplified by the complete debacle the end of the last Commission became.

    I personally like the idea the idea of an HRC and believe the Unionist community needs to embrace positively a human rights agenda. However, the experience of the NIHRC is very much like the comment from a nationalist community worker from the New Lodge made to myself. I mentioned about human rights and equality, his reply “Those aren’t for you, those are for us”.

    A human rights culture will not be genuinely established if it is continually presented as alien to the Unionist community and something to be presented as a fait accompli.

    On the broader issue human rights processes have become much abused with many sectional interests trying to get their own wants defined as a universal right and in its drafts of a Bill of Rights this is the trap the HRC has fallen into.

    Mick/OC

    “Is Monica McWilliams a card carrying member of SF? No”

    I haven’t seen any membership lists of Sinn Fein but no I do not think she has been a card carrying member of Sinn Fein.

    She was involved with the Communist Party of Ireland and a number of its front organisations, an organisation that is committed to an 32 county socialist Irish republic.

    I believe you will find Monica McWilliams is a fine example of a section of the left that as it cannot win at the ballot box tries to use human rights to impose their agenda. (This is not that I have a problem with some of the social-economic agenda I just believe don’t believe in using this tactic for its intorduction)

    “It’s typical of unionist bloggers that they see any body who isn’t an avowed unionist as partisan or against them”

    It is unwise to generalise and in the is case you are wrong. If she was to be appointed as a Commissioner I wouldn’t have a problem as part of gaining a Commission representative of Northern Ireland. However, the Chief Commissioner’s job is different and should not be someone whith a bias to any section of |NI society.

    “Incidentally I notice the name of Jonathan Bell, the organiser of the Long March, the self styled campaigner for ‘human rights for Protestants’ among the other appointees.”

    Whoopee 1 out of 10.

  • Jo

    Which section of NI society has Monica a bias towards, please?

  • what a farce

    So, the ex-leader of the most discriminatory party in Northern Ireland politics, gets the job as head of the HRC.
    What a laugh. She has no credibility from the outset.

  • fair_deal

    Jo

    The nationalist/republican community

  • Jo

    FD:

    I am sorry that you perceive Monica as having that disposition.

    Perhaps you could indicate some of the standpoints she took in the Assembly where she clearly and consistently favoured SDLP and SF policies.

  • TAFKABO

    I wonder if she will be able to use her freindship with David Ervine to help the case of Raymond McCord?

  • fair_deal

    I have provided an example already of her involvement with a strongly pro-republican organisation.

    “Perhaps you could indicate some of the standpoints she took in the Assembly where she clearly and consistently favoured SDLP and SF policies.”

    I am afraid I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of Northern Ireland Assembly votes of any of the parties or individual MLAs in my head or immediately to hand.

    However, the NIWC’s willingess to support the supposed non-resignation of Seamus Mallon – hardly an example of high standards being demanded was it? Neither does falsely accusing Ian Paisley of assaulting a women doorkeeper.

  • Jo

    I do not presume that anyone has the detailed knowledge at hand to respond to my 0231 point.

    MY point on the other hand is that reaction to this appointment is based on a kneejerk reaction to someone who would have been appointed through the application of appropriate standards regarding public appointments – openness, transparency of appointment procedure, objectivity and merit.

    If anyone has an issue with Monica’s performance of her new role at least give her an opportunity to sit down behind her desk!

  • Jo

    FD:

    Monica’s association with CPI is not adequate evidence of an enduring political affiliation any more than David Trimble’s period in Vanguard would be presently accepted as evidence of his Unionist bona fides.

  • Jo
  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    “Monica’s association with CPI is not adequate evidence of an enduring political affiliation”

    Hardly a ringing endorsement of a pragmatic individual though, is it?

  • Jo

    Beano,

    You know full well that it is very difficult for any left or right wing thinker not to be entangled with Nationalism/Unionism in this part of the world.

    It is perfectly possible to be left wing in outlook and not part of the RM. Human rights are not the preserve of the latter!

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    I never said anything about her RM credentials, I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt as far as nationalist vs unionist politics go.

    It’s her potential to take the piss out of the whole ‘human rights’ ideal in the first place by overstretching her mark in a bid for personal glory, rendering the whole Human Rights effort in Northern Ireland a joke. see the other thread re: the bill of rights and DSD’s response to it.

  • fair_deal

    Jo

    The term Republican Movement (RM) tends to apply to Sinn Fein and the IRA. For the sake of accuracy, the CPI is not part of the RM in its commonly used meaning.

  • Jo

    FD:

    Fair enough but I imagine that the DUP would see the CPI goal of 32 socialist counties as indistinguishable from the SF goal 🙂

  • fair_deal

    There is a distinction in means which is important

  • Jo

    Yes, Monica is a democrat. And a woman. And left wing. There are a few of us about.

  • redpaul

    Can’t help thinking the DUP hate this appointment as Monica would not be intimidated by their purile bullying in the talks and in the Assembly. A first class mind who understands rights and people, who also exposes third rate playground cowards like Ian Jnr. for what they really are, hence the snarling venom from the boys yesterday.
    She was also an excellent constituency MLA who lost her seat as a result of the bigger electoral battle between Unionism and Nationalism in South Belfast.

  • fair_deal

    “She was also an excellent constituency MLA”

    Not sold on that one (based on personal experience)

  • willowfield

    I have heard Ian Paisley and Arlene Foster condemning the appointment of McWilliams and saying it is bad for unionism. I may be exposing my ignorance here, but I assume, then, that McWilliams is a nationalist. Is this correct? (I know she’s probably perceived by many as a bit of “do-gooding busy-body”, but I’m not aware of her expressing (publicly at least) any views on the Union.)

    On the wider point of human rights, I am a supporter of the European Convention and welcomed its inclusion into UK domestic law. IÂ’ve never properly understood the role of the Commission, however. With the Convention rights enshrined in our law, this means that the courts can deal with any breaches. So why do we need a commission?

    My fear is that the Commission is there to create additional and unnecessary politically-inspired human rights that will end up entrenching sectarian division (e.g. by introducing the concept of “community rights”). This, surely, would be the antithesis of human rights by placing the group’s rights on a par with the individual’s?

    The European Convention is good enough for the rest of Europe. Why do we need anything different?

  • fair_deal

    Willowfield

    She was involved with the Communist Party of Ireland and a number of its front groups. CPI advocates a 32 county socialist republic.

    “This, surely, would be the antithesis of human rights by placing the groupÂ’s rights on a par with the individualÂ’s?”

    It would also go against the advice the NIHRC received. A senior representative of OSCE told them in express terms NOT to enshrine group rights in a Bill of Rights.

  • willowfield

    FD

    She was involved with the Communist Party of Ireland and a number of its front groups. CPI advocates a 32 county socialist republic.

    WAS involved? When? Was the CPI’s advocacy of a UI her reason for membership? Or was it because she was a communist?

    Honestly think the hysterical reaction of Paisley and – uncharacteristically – Foster – is an over-reaction if this is all it is based on.

    Of course, it’s possible that she does hold strong nationalist views privately, but I’ve never heard her say anything particularly bad.

    That’s not to say I’m not concerned about her appointment – but it’s not because she’s an assumed nationalist – it’s because I’d be concerned she might be the type to go for this group rights thing.

    It would also go against the advice the NIHRC received. A senior representative of OSCE told them in express terms NOT to enshrine group rights in a Bill of Rights.

    Will the Commission heed this advice??

  • fair_deal

    On her reasons for involvement with CPI don’t know she doesn’t talk about it. Her lack of candour on this stuff doesn’t help. She tends to go for the answer of “All that doesn’t matter I’m a believer in the Belfast Agreement now”

    I have said earlier it was her appointment as a CHIEF Commissioner that was crass and the row about her position has clouded what is overall a rather unrepresentative commission. The DUP are peeved off on a number of counts they seem to have told the NIO anyone but Monica as Chief Commissioner so they feel done over by the NIO plus not happy with the overall balance of the Commission. The UUP are unhappy about the balance too.

    “Will the Commission heed this advice??”

    I don’t know but on past form I doubt it.

  • pakman

    “She was also an excellent constituency MLA”

    Hmm… she canvassed me in 1998 when I lived in Windsor Court. I opened the door, she looked at me and told her team “don’t bother, he’s a unionist.”!

  • redpaul

    Myself and a lot of friends found her to be helpful and accessible. One mate from Sandy Row thought she was superb in helping when his mother took seriouslt ill in England and they needed financial help getting back to NI.
    CPI so what? Half the CPI hacks now hold important jobs in the Civil Service ( Dave Wall DSD for example) or in education,the community and voluntary sector etc. Partition and capitalism remain secure upon our island regardless!
    And who doesn’t have skeletons in their political cupboard round these parts!?!(And I mean on this board!)

  • fair_deal

    ” Half the CPI hacks now hold important jobs in the Civil Service ( Dave Wall DSD for example) or in education,the community and voluntary sector etc.”

    They do indeed hold a range of positions but how well they have looked after one another is a tale for another day.

  • IJP

    That’s not to say I’m not concerned about her appointment – but it’s not because she’s an assumed nationalist – it’s because I’d be concerned she might be the type to go for this group rights thing.

    Spot on, Willowfield.

    But as usual Unionists are missing the point by turning (or at least appearing to turn) the thing into a sectarian slanging match, rather than focusing on the real (and important) issue.

    I’m a great believer in judging by action rather than label, so we’ll see how she starts out. Meantime, see the Long Peace article top left!

  • mick hall

    One of the problems with a position like this in the north, is when push comes to shove there are few cross benchers, [almost]all public life flows from the political divide. One only has to look at the Alliance Party, despite their best of intentions to understand this.[sorry ijp]

    One of the things that never ceases to amuse me is those who have suddenly started opposing ‘community rights’. When their own community was in the ascendancy, they either seemed quite happy about the rights this gave them or did little to oppose them. It is the same with affirmative action. when there own community or race were getting preferential treatment, they saw little harm in it. It is only when those whose oppression they benefited from demands affirmative action, they suddenly decide to become opponents of it declaring it is detrimental to the dignity of man or some such.

    To set up a human rights commission on what is little more than buggins-turn seems to me to be absurd and defeats the object as all you end up with is Party jobs worths, or people who have somehow managed to offend less people than the other candidates, hence we get the saintly women’s coalition member at its head. Still all the same, I wish her well. By the way, there are a lot of us ex communist out here.

  • usernamexists

    >>The European Convention is good enough for the rest of Europe. Why do we need anything different?

    Written constitutions, the majority including Bills of Rights going well beyond the 1950 ECHR, are good enough for the rest of Europe. Why do we need anything less?

  • Bored

    Pakman – hhmmm – anything to do with you being pretty well known at the time? I’m sure if she’d knocked on a door and Gerry Kelly had answered she’d have said something pretty similar i.e. – “don’t bother – he’s a republican”….