The case of Interim Victims Commissioner and objections to three of the Parades Commission has raised the issue of public appointments. However, the NIHRC and EC may have a few questions to answer too. NIWC members seem to be doing rather well and have a very disproportionate presence on both bodies. Is the statutory duty to that such bodies “as a group are representative of the community in Northern Ireland” being fulfilled? To overcome such problems is it time to adopt the Policing Board model for key institutions such as the Equality Commission?There have been 59 appointments (58 people as one person has served on both) made to the Equality and Human Rights Commissions. Among the 59 appointments 15 (25%) were of people with links to political parties. Of this 15, 7 had links to the NIWC, 3 to the SDLP, 2 to the UUP and 1 each linked to the DUP, SF and Alliance. So 12% of all appointments to these two bodies have went to NIWC members. At its most popular the NIWC gained 1.6% of the vote and at the last Assembly elections gained 0.8% so their representation on these bodies is 7.5 to 15 times greater than the support they attract. The only person appointed to both bodies was a member of the NIWC.
There are three senior positions on the NIHRC and EC, 2 Chief Commissioners and 1 Deputy Commissioner. Since their creation 6 people have been appointed to these senior positions, 2 of those 6 (33%) were members of the NIWC.
The appointments of people with political links are as follows:
NIWC – Annie Campbell (EC) Angela Hegarty (HRC) Bronagh Hinds (EC) Anne Hope (HRC & EC) Margaret Logue (EC) Monica McWilliams (HRC)
SDLP – Tom Donnelly (HRC) John Heron (EC) Eamon O’Neill (HRC)
UUP – Chris McGimpsey (HRC), Daphne Trimble (EC)
DUP – Jonathan Bell (HRC)
SF – Una Gillespie (EC)
Alliance – Geraldine Rice (HRC)