Round up the usual suspects, it’s NIHRC Conference time

I have just received the blurb from the NIHRC about their annual conference (pdf file). Yet again it inspires the usual lack of confidence. The list of speakers are the usual suspects as the NIHRC continues with its policy of “create a human rights culture by continually talking amongst ourselves”. Is anyone expecting to hear anything different from a former British-Irish Rights Watch worker, Amnesty International, the standard local academics e.g. Neil Jarman, Declan O’Hare etc etc?In the first session “Building a human rights and equality culture” only NI and RoI public bodies are invited, apparently no public body on the mainland has anything to contribute. It’s always best to place the ideas of human rights and equality in an All-Ireland context, its the best way to see them as having no political agenda and encourage broad support. Also having two Commissioners with close ties to the Women’s Coalition isn’t enough, their old political pal from the Coalition (and long before that) Avila Kilmurray has been invited to contribute to that session too.

When it comes to discussing the wider cultural context for human rights it seems only nationalist journalist/commentators, Fionnuala O’Connor and Susan McKay, have anything to offer the debate. Also, in the workshop about human rights and faith communities it seems only Christians with ecumenical views can speak on it.

One must ask why is DUP councillor Jonathon Bell lending his name to this whole charade? The “fighting the good fight” from within doesn’t seem to be going well so far.

P.S. There is of course one outstanding session, Blogging human rights, by the innovative and outstanding, Mick Fealty. 😉

  • Dec

    When it comes to discussing the wider cultural context for human rights it seems only nationalist journalist/commentators, Fionnuala O’Connor and Susan McKay, have anything to offer the debate…One must ask why is DUP councillor Jonathon Bell lending his name to this whole charade?

    See the contradiction here?

  • Animus

    Jonathan Bell is a Commissioner, perhaps that’s why? Yes, even some DUP people are interested in human rights.

  • fair_deal

    Dec

    LOL.
    1. Jonathan Bell is not contributing to that session.
    2. Look look there is ONE Unionist that one person makes up for absolutely everything else. Hmmmm.

  • Dec

    FD

    Why don’t you attend the conference and then enlighten us with your views afterwards rather than launching into to a longwinded ad-hominen diatribe before the event even takes place.
    Just a thought.

  • fair_deal

    Dec

    If you feel the need to make it about me rather than address the topic so be it

    1. Where did I say I wasn’t going?
    2. This is an offical programme distributed to the public and thus fair game for comment.

  • Dec

    If you feel the need to make it about me rather than address the topic so be it

    My, that’s rich. Lets examine this paragraph again, shall we:

    Also having two Commissioners with close ties to the Women’s Coalition isn’t enough, their old political pal from the Coalition (and long before that) Avila Kilmurray has been invited to contribute to that session too.

    1. Where did I say I wasn’t going?

    Where did I say you weren’t. I asked that you hold off your criticisms until after you’d attended.

    2. This is an offical programme distributed to the public and thus fair game for comment.

    Why the need to castigate speakers on the basis of who they are rather than what they will say at the conference (again thats where criticism after the event is advantageous)?

  • lib2016

    You are all being very hard on poor FD. It might even be a good thing if some of our local campaigners for Civil and Religious Liberty came along.

  • Alan

    Scraping the bottom of the barrel here, FD.

    The programme looks well rounded and has some interesting highlights. Avila was supposed to speak at last years event, but couldn’t. It will be interesting to hear her contribution depending on that TBC.

    This is a big event for the NIHRC. It’s about them claiming the HR territory for themselves which is a good and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because having a HR institution that can command respect may push the later adopters to tune into HR. It’s potentially also bad if the NIHRC continues to play its cards so close to its chest that the game stops altogether.

    If this conference is to be about developing a HR culture, Peter and others need to loosen the information reins a bit. The HR Forum will be interesting next month.

  • Nevin

    “nationalist journalist/commentators”

    Perhaps the unionist ones have been slow to respond, FD – or said NO ….

  • fair_deal

    Dec

    “you hold off your criticisms until after you’d attended.”

    A imbalanced mix of speakers is an imbalanced mix of speakers. My personal attendance is an insignificant detail. Why the lack of defence of the NIHRC’s programme and the focus on me?

    “Why the need to castigate speakers on the basis of who they are rather than what they will say at the conference (again thats where criticism after the event is advantageous)?”

    I don’t castigate anyone for being who they are. I castigate the NIHRC for bringing together a group of speakers with a narrowness of perspective.

  • fair_deal

    Nevin

    Myabe, maybe not. However the issue of imbalance runs through most of the programme.

  • Since we already have a Bill of Rights as a result of the Glorious Revolution, why do we need a “human rights” agenda?

    Actually we don’t, because in Britain “human rights” is simply a means by which the liberal-left can agitate for change and reshape society in their own image. So no wonder nationalists are keener for it than unionists in the local situation.

  • Honestly, folks, I prefer to spend all night browsing through the Stormont Hansard of the ancien regime (thanks Mick) than having to listen to Monica et al, with the obvious exception of Mr Fealty.

  • wild turkey

    before more people get stuck into FD (with whom i’ve many disagreements in the past) a few simple questions and a request for education and englightment.

    1. since its inception, what tangible on the ground impact has NIHRC made?
    2. I know it is difficult to argue the counterfactual..but, in the absence of the NIHRC, what, if anything would be different in this, or other,jurisdictions in the absence of NIHRC?

    3. what tangible and measureable impacts and outcomes will arise from the conference?

    answers on a postcard please

    milton ‘ there is no free lunch’ freidman recently passed on to the great money supply in the sky. hallelujah

    There may be no free lunch, but from the programme schedule I note that dinner is served at eight.

    who pays? who benefits? who loses?

    if the human rights/equality/community relations conglomerate manufactured light bulbs, we all probably still be in the dark… and the firm would be in liquidation.

  • rapunsel

    Fair Deal hasn’t been doing his homework. Totally unfair to criticise a speaker without attending the event first. I understand A Kilmurray is Director of the Community Foundation. Could her contribution be something to do with the fact that as noted on their website they are about to launch a new programme on a Bill of Rights?

    ” As the creation of a Bill of Rights re-emerges as a live issue in Northern Ireland, the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland will enable and enliven debate on the creation of the Bill.

    The Foundation has secured funding for a Bill of Rights Project to include a Small Grants Programme and a parallel Training and Support Programme. This presents a critical opportunity for the community sector to play a key part in the framing and, more specifically, the outworking of the Bill of Rights.

    The main purpose of a Bill of Rights is to establish and guarantee the relationship between the state and its citizens.

    The Project will create local awareness and debate and encourage participation in the process of creating an appropriate Bill of Rights.

    The final delivery of an effective Bill of Rights is the concern of everyone interested in the search for long-term peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

    The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has said that the Bill of Rights should:
    “make a real difference to the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland – young and old, rich and poor, long established and newly arrived.”

    Learning about social justice and human rights issues is critical to helping local communities shape the Bill of Rights that will be developed for NI and the local communities to participate in the decision making that lies ahead.

    More details on the project will be available soon. Look out for regular project updates through the newsletters which will be available on this website.

    I thought Fair Deal might know about this already!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Animus: “Jonathan Bell is a Commissioner, perhaps that’s why? Yes, even some DUP people are interested in human rights. ”

    If Unionism had a fraction of their purported “interest in human rights” thirty-some odd years ago, we wouldn’t have these problems.

    Fair_Deal: “A imbalanced mix of speakers is an imbalanced mix of speakers. My personal attendance is an insignificant detail. Why the lack of defence of the NIHRC’s programme and the focus on me? ”

    And when Unionists barred Nationalist speakers from attending a women’s political conference that was using Council space, what was your opinion on having an “imbalanced mix of speakers?”

    Wild Turkey: “milton ‘ there is no free lunch’ freidman (sic) recently passed on to the great money supply in the sky. hallelujah ”

    Tsk tsk tsk… complain all you want, the man was right, having both the Nobel Prize and the mathematical support to prove his point.

    Rapunsel: “The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has said that the Bill of Rights should: “make a real difference to the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland – young and old, rich and poor, long established and newly arrived.”

    Gee, Rapunsel, seeing as they’re trying to sell the notion, is it a shock the salesmen have their pitch and patter already worked up?

  • Mick Fealty

    POI:

    I have no doubt that this thread will form an important feature of my presentation.

  • Pete Baker

    It may already have been sold, Dread..

    And, what’s more, we’re supposed to get our very own special rights to suit our very own particular circumstances…

    Because… well, we’re special, innit?

    [off sarcasm]

  • Pete Baker

    Feel free to highlight our specialness, Mick. ;o)

  • wild turkey

    Rapunsel

    fair point and nice cut and paste job. I am on the periphery of the equality/human rights industry and did not know about the current initiative. down to my ignorance no doubt.

    However, in the document you quote, how does the community foundation propose to monitor and assess whether or not the programme they propose and will assumedly exucute , will deliver what they set out to achieve?

    back to my earlier point about tangible outcomes and impacts on the ground.For example, how will I, and indeed the Comm foundation, know if the programme has created ‘local awareness and debate and encouraged participation in the process of creating an appropriate Bill of Rights? (we’ll leave the use of the word of ‘appropriate’ for another time). Should I wait for my invite from the CF to participate in a local commmunity consultation, a questionnaire, a mailshot?

    if the bill of rights will ‘make a real difference to the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland – young and old, rich and poor, long established and newly arrived.’ how will we know it has been effective in this aim and ambition?

    an historical note of probably very little interest to the present polity,

    It took far less time to write, legislate for (at both federal and state level) the first ten ammendments to the american constitution (known as the bill of rights) than the ongoing debate/farce here regarding a bill of rights… And yes, I will be the first to acknowledge that in NI 2006 there are a great range of diverse and competing players, unlike america 1790 when a few rich white males (many of whom were slave owners) just sat down, wrote it and did it…and ever since then, to the present day, rich white american males have been energetic and disingenuous in their efforts to undermine what was an expression of the better angels of our human nature… apologies for going off on a tangent but thanksgiving is coming up thursday.

  • dpef

    I hope you make the point that much of the Unionist community has pre-judged the event before hearing a word and rejected it’s worth, that the criteria they used for that judgment (confirmed guests) has been partially applied and dropped when it didn’t suit their agenda – see the confirmed speakers for the political section and the fact this wasn’t mentioned above – just as they seem to have rejected the whole concept of Human Rights.

    Maybe some people fear an equality agenda because they think equality inevitably means lose of advantage. A zero sum attitude.

  • Mick Fealty

    dpef,

    With the deepest of respect, I’ll not be telling anyone that one or two commenters on Slugger are representative of a whole community.

    What a scary thought!!

  • fair_deal

    Rapunsel

    I am aware of Avila’s and CFNI’s work as I have been involved with it. Alan pointed out she was invited last year but didn’t show, undermining the claim it relates to a funding programme about to start this year.

    “The final delivery of an effective Bill of Rights is the concern of everyone interested in the search for long-term peace and stability in Northern Ireland.”

    1. Yes it is the concern of everyone and that is why I am concerned the job of an unrepresentative cabal that does nothing but talk to itself and its buddies.
    2. Great, maybe that would be accomplished if they started putting together events that practiced what it preached.

    DC

    “And when Unionists barred Nationalist speakers from attending a women’s political conference that was using Council space, what was your opinion on having an “imbalanced mix of speakers?”

    1. Two exclusions make inclusion. Hmmm.
    2. I have checked that thread and I did not comment. Perhaps you are confusing me with yerman
    Link

    Mick

    Admit it you hadn’t worked up your presentation for the event 😉

  • fair_deal

    dpef

    “Maybe some people fear an equality agenda because they think equality inevitably means lose of advantage.”

    LMAO. Exclusion and imbalance is an “equality agenda”. Priceless

  • dpef

    “Admit it you hadn’t worked up your presentation for the event”

    It would fill more time than:

    Blogging human rights – “blogging is always a naval gazing exercise for a tiny group of anoraks with a great level of respect for their own opinion and a huge desire to make it known and as such any role for blogging will not be representative of the much larger groups of people who have much better things to be doing with their lives – Thank you. That’ll be £1,000 plus expenses”.

    FD,

    What imbalance and exclusion? You haven’t presented any. You have presented an unconfirmed list of speakers. Mentioned perceived imbalance in some areas, neglected the perceived imbalance in others. You have no idea who was invited and didn’t accept certainly haven’t provide devidence of exclusion. Haven’t heard a word from the speakers.

    You have prejudged based on partial and partially presented information.

    Neglecting to mention the current weighting of the political section shows how utterly biased your piece is. In fact I’d say failing to mention that element borders on dishonesty.

  • Fair Deal

    dpef

    My my they invited a Unionist politician to the Q&A of politicians. Big deal.

    However, if you believe the absence of a confirmed nationalist politician for the Q&A debate can cause the “perception” of imbalance. Then maybe we heading to some common ground. I have listed four problem areas (the context of one debate, the nationalist bias in another, the limited religious perspective in one and the general point its the same people yet again) and you raise one. Could that not cause perception of an overall imbalance?

    “You have no idea who was invited”

    Neither do you. I have based my comments on the publicly available information. Your comment about others being invited is supposition.

    “You have prejudged based on partial and partially presented information”

    1. I have heard most of these speakers before as they are as I described the ‘usual suspects’. I have also read the writings of some.
    2. The NIHRC thought it complete enough to distribute, make publicly available and a sufficient programme to attract participation.

  • Thanks to Fair Deal for this useful publicity – hope you’ll be able to attend. As the conference organiser, I’m obviously interested in this debate – all I want to add is that further speakers will be added to the programme. Nick O’Brien from the DRC in Britain for example is a panel member on the first conference debate and David Ervine is speaking in the cultural context debate the next day. We expect reps from other political parties will confirm their participation and the focus on business and faith groups in particular will be of interest to a wide range of people perhaps not previously involved in human rights work. Check our website for further info – it should be a good event.

    By the way, does Mick really charge that much?

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    😉

  • The biggest scandal of the lot has to be:

    Briege Gadd isn’t speaking! I demand a public inquiry into this outrage. 😉

    They should make all attendees of this conference park their cars in the Markets area – this would give them a little reminder of how things are in the *real* world as opposed to the lovely sanitised atmosphere of the Hilton. As asked previously – who’s paying for all this?

    (P.S., last time I looked, Lady Eames and David Stevens were Prods)

  • Animus

    I am also disappointed by the lineup, but for different reasons. I don’t feel that the voluntary and community sector is well-represented. Yes Avila will be attending, but I would be interested in hearing more from organisations trying to raise awareness of rights generally, not just media campaigns or funding streams.

    Dread Cthulu – I accept that unionism has not been part of the debate on human rights, but when someone expresses an interest and is then castigated, it’s no wonder.

  • fair_deal

    David Ervine, yet another usual suspect and friend of Monica’s.

  • IJP

    Fair Deal is quite right to raise the general scourge of “conferences” where the same old suspects meet to discuss the same old line.

    Indeed, one of the reasons I think forums such as Slugger are so useful is that they enable us to challenge the orthodoxy – and indeed that there isn’t really any orthodoxy to start with.

    I have been involved in running Human Rights seminars in the past – that meant the key figures in promoting a bill, but also the key figures opposed to one, and those who recognize the practical difficulties not just of developing one but also of implementing it in UK law. You cannot just wish such difficulties away.

  • As and when Gordon pulls us blubbering away from the teat, by heaven am I looking forward to the day when these sorts of things have to pay for themselves. Any takers? No? Gosh.

  • horace rumpole

    well mick, if you do intend to plunder our thoughts for this yawnfest my tuppence hap’worth is to quote the comment of some cod peer interviewed by Alan partridge on his radio series(infinitely funnier than the tv show) “Knowing Me Knowing You” describing his maiden speech in the House of Lords- “Ladies and Gentlemen, You’re all arses. Goodbye”.
    Honestly, at least m’learned friends make money when they get their piles sitting in court all day. The thought of a day or weekend wasted looking at more powerpoint presentations from earnest academics prattling on about educating the proles and empowering (ugh) minorities while the real people are down the bookies or watching “I’m a celebrity” -well, it’s ruining my human rights just thinking about it.

    And the undeniable fact is that the Commission has a worse record in changing lives than Louis Saha has at taking penalties in Glasgow.

  • Alan

    “You cannot just wish such difficulties away.”

    Except that the orthodoxy has become the drive provided by Human Rights in NI and the wider world. It is a gentle impetus towards a more progressive world. What you seem to be suggesting would wish difficulties into place.

    We’ll soon have a new convention on disability rights. There will, as a consequence, be a step change in the life chances of disabled people across the world as that agreement turns Government’s heads towards disability issues. Surely you can’t demand that progress on disability is halted?

    I agree that there is a wider agenda as well, linking Human Rights with the containment of globalisation and action to improve the environment. They are all bound up in one movement and all need to be actioned in order to make a difference.

  • horace rumpole

    omigod, I’ve read the agenda- £65 to have dinner with Monica and listen to the burblings of …Dermot Nesbitt. Now that’s what I call abuse of human rights

  • willowfield

    Why do we need a bill of rights when we are already party to the European Convention, which is also enshrined in our domestic law?