Interim Commissioner to duplicate government consultation

As predicted yesterday, Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has announced the appointment of Bertha McDougall as the first Victims Commissioner.. except.. it’s an Interim post.. with no permanent premises and a dictated, and restricted, remit aimed at producing a review of services within the year.. in spite of the fact that both the then-Victims’ Minister, Angela Smith and the then-Secretary of State Paul Murphy, through the Victims Unit of the OFMDFM, have already conducted public consultations on those services.

According to the statement by Peter Hain, the Interim Commissioner will carry out the following duties –

Review arrangements for service delivery and coordination of services for victims and survivors across Departments and Agencies, identifying any gaps in service provision.

Review how well the current funding arrangements in relation to services and grants paid to victims and survivors groups and individual victims and survivors are addressing need. At present around 50 groups are in receipt of Government grants.

Consider the modalities of establishing a Victims and Survivors Forum.

And this is to be carried out without permanent premises.. all contact is to be conducted through the Victims Unit of the Offices of the First and Deputy First Minister.

However, according to the Victims Unit website, the then-Victims’ Minister reported a summary of responses to her consultation on those services in October 2004 –

Victims’ Minister, Angela Smith, has now published a summary of the responses (pdf 91kb) she received to her consultation on the next phase of Government policies to address the needs of those affected by the troubles in Northern Ireland. The Minister is now in the process of drawing up proposals for improvements in the arrangements for the planning, coordination and delivery of the services provided to victims.

This was followed by a further consultation by the then Secretary of State Paul Murphy, issued in March 2005 –

The Secretary of State Paul Murphy has made a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament on the future of victims’ and survivors’ services in Northern Ireland including the Government’s initial proposals for a new Victims’ and Survivors’ Commissioner. A consultation document (pdf 399 kb) on the proposals for future services and a Victims’ and Survivors’ Commissioner has been published by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. The consultation period will run until 30 June 2005.

Any sign of a report on that consultation?

And with legislation still to be brought forward to establish a permanent post of Victims Commissioner, a post which I’ve already noted my dissent on, the statement by Peter Hain further calls into question both the timing and the purpose of this appointment.

Anyone in favour of joined-up Government? Anyone??

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