On the snobbery of liberal officialdom?

Raymond McCord is only one of quite a number of individuals who did not get shortlisted for the post of Victims Commissioner, but Newton Emerson believes he must have received the crassest reasons for not getting the job…

According to the powers that be, the widely admired victims campaigner lacks “awareness of the conflict”, “an ability to deal with the media” and “written presentational skills”.

To tell a man who lost his son that he lacks awareness of the conflict is simply appalling. To tell this particular man that he lacks awareness of the conflict simply beggars belief.

Mr McCord was sufficiently aware of the conflict to lobby for a police ombudsman’s inquiry which uncovered the biggest collusion scandal since Stakeknife. The NIO hardly lacks awareness of that, having spent three years stalling the investigation.

Admittedly Peter Hain did lose awareness for several minutes when he fell asleep during his first meeting with Mr McCord. Perhaps making journalists aware of this is what the NIO means by lacking an ability to deal with the media. It certainly can’t mean anything else. Mr McCord kept a single-issue campaign in the press for almost 10 years.


  • jaffa

    Why do you call this “liberal” officialdom Mick? What’s liberal about it?

  • Shore Road Resident

    Because it thinks of itself as liberal?
    I’m amused/depressed by the thought of these people, who normally justify their existence by claiming to care so deeply for people from exactly Raymond McCord’s background, recoiling in horror when someone from Raymond McCord’s background turned up looking for one of their jobs.
    Telegraph has more on this today by the way.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m working on something else that might provide at least a part answer to that… later…

  • Marie Antoinette

    The idea of giving one of the great unwashed a job like this is revolting.

  • seanzmct

    I have no axe to grind with Raymond McCord. However, I find it odd that following appeal, he was told that he had an absolute skills deficit in terms of several relevant aspects of the job specification.

    Surely, whatever Mr. McCord’s merits, the interviewing panel judged that there was someone relatively more suitable for the post.They shoud now be held accountable for their decision.

  • Shore Road Resident

    This was the shortlisting, down to 13 applicants – and from the shortlisting criteria listed in today’s Tele, McCord should have been on the shortlist.

  • Marie Antoinette,

    Please define “great unwashed”?

    I find that an appalling term which smacks of blatant snobbery, class prejudice and elitism…

  • Shore Road Resident

    Another Shinner irony bypass…

  • This morning Mitchel McLaughlin was complaining that financial decisions were being taken over the heads of the incoming ministers. Surely the shortlisting for the job of victims commissioner could have waited until the executive was in place. At least then the axe might have been managed more adeptly and we might not have had the spectacle of people who are clearly very well informed about conflict and the consequences of conflict being told that they don’t measure up to the standard a civil servant has in mind.
    This has all the signs of being another major pratfall for Hain, decisions being taken on grounds that will not be defensible if they are challenged. Surely, having made such an ass of himself the last time, he should have relished the opportunity to leave this decision to others.

  • susan

    MacSwiney, Marie Antoinette was sent to the guillotine as the unfortunate embodiment of snobbery, class prejudice and elitism — it our Marie Antoinette meant her post literally, she’d have chosen a different name.

    I was fuming about this earlier (and far less effectively than Emerson, it must be said) on the older McCord rejection thread. I hadn’t thought of moving the power of appointment from the NIO to the Assembly, as Emerson suggests.

    I’m curious what others here think of that idea?

  • jaffa

    Maybe you missed the Shinner irony bypass irony.

    Or maybe I just missed yours!

    Irony’s a delicate instrument in electronic communications.

  • Shore Road Resident

    The suggestion is not just moving the power of appointment to the assembly (it will have to approve appointments anyway) but moving towards democratic replacement of all the unelected commissioners with assembly committees.

  • jaffa

    I thought that Emerson was suggesting moving the role of the commissioner itself to a minister or an assembly committee, not just the appointment. I agree with him that getting civil servants to do the tricky stuff is a cop out for the elected, especially when we have 108 of them. I think electoral accountability is the genuinely “liberal” position.

  • jaffa


  • susan

    Two snaps, and a circle, thanks SRR and Jaffa, I read through far too fast the first time.

  • I wondered to myself whether McCord was rejected for being too working-class, but didn’t post anything for fear of seeming paranoid.

    I’m glad it’s not just me…

  • Mickhall

    I am often accused of having a fish shop on my solder because of my class prejudices and it is true I have, but this is as clear an example of why as I have come across of late.

    What has happened with all these Quangos [I will come to SF] is that the middle classes are once again ring fencing all public positions for themselves. For a position like this Raymond would have been ideal and at the very least should have been short listed, but no the road to all such jobs has been barricaded by professional qualifications or political influence.

    True the shinners have been able to get around this of late due to their political muscle, but they only nominate their own. Even so they are better than nothing although they have some way to go.

    These Quangos have increased under NL and are extremely powerful as they have enormous sums of money to spend and considerable power. You should not need any qualifications to sit on a management type body such as these organization nor to chair them, it is not necessary as they pay people with these qualification, all that should be required of an applicant is that they either uses the organization or its decisions effect his/her life. For example hospital boards and other aspects of the NHS, policing boards, Victims Commissioner, etc.

    This matter really is a disgrace and it is not confined to the north of Ireland, some one recently wrote to me about an appointment to her local NHS hospital board in England and the individual who attained the post does not even live in the area that the hospital in question covers.[10K for 2 days a month]

    It will be no more democratic if the local assembly appoints these people, what is needed is either as happened in some parts of the UK in the past, i.e. local community organizations, trade unions, business associations, tenants and disabled rights groups etc nominate individuals or for a post like the Victims commissioner candidates stand for election on a proportional basis. Heck suggested the CPS should be elected on another thread, the Victims commissioner is crying out to be included in this category.

    Patronage is a relic of the past and should be binned. A poorly uneducated working class individual has as much right as a member from any other class to play a role as an active citizen, after all the middle classes did not make a good pair of shoes of things in the north when they had the power, now did they?

  • DC

    Ah don’t you just love Newton Emerson when he unleashes a snappy little piece like that. Pure brilliance especially with another dig at Monica McWilliams and the NIO toffeee boys.

  • TT

    If the appointment was left to the Executive/Assembly what would happen? Bertha would be in again on the back of a side deal somewhere else for SF. After all hasn’t Big Ian appointed his neice’s husband as his special advisor on Business and the Economy?

  • Shore Road Resident

    But the appointment is left to the executive/assembly, which is just the final stitch in an obvious peace process stitch-up.
    A cross-party victims committee would be a different beast entirely. Unlike a commission, it would be demonstrably balanced and accountable.

  • GavBelfast

    The idea of giving one of the great unwashed a job like this is revolting.Posted by Marie Antoinette on Apr 27, 2007 @ 12:41 PM

    Quote/handle/e-mail address combo of the year to date. Black humour at its best.

  • rapunsel

    I am going to go against most postings on this one. Given the debacle over the appointment of Bertha McDougall, how likely is it that the NIO would get caught out again especially as this is a public appointment subject to open competition? I am not so sure that patronage works as easliy in this scenario. In terms of Raymond McCord , personally he is one of my current heroes. However reading the copy of the letter of his rejection in today’s Irish News it states that his application did not provide evidence that he met particular criteria not that he has no knowledge or awareness of these particular issues. It is an important distinction . I know of at least one eprson shortlisted for interview for this post that I know would not be capable of the job and fom their work do not in my opinion meet the criteria, they must however have demonstrated on their application form to the satisfaction of others that they did — this is one of the limitations of the recruitment exercise for this post . I think NIO have shown a lack of imagination in terms of the recruitment and one would have expected a recruitment process based on evidence and ability tested in a more imaginative way. The exercise reflects the type of person they want for the job

  • Rapunsel,

    I also agree with your viewpoint. I have spoken to Gareth McCord on this forum and he’s a decent lad. I also have great sympathy with his family’s campaign.

    However this does not mean that Raymond Senior would necessarily be the person best suited to the role. All appointments within The Northern ireland Civil Service are now subject to a criteria-based interviewing process at ALL grades.

    It is not a perfect process but generally it is much better and fairer than the old system of making appointments based on a half-hour interview which could have consisted of absolute flannel and which was open to frequent allegations of impropriety.

    If Raymond did not satisfy all of the criteria for this very demanding and important position, it is not, in any way, a reflection on his integrity or moral standing.

    For that reason, I fAil to see the point that Newton Emerson is making here. Newton has not addressed any of the designated criteria for this position nor has he indicated why Raymond is better suited than any of the other very capable candidates.

    Basically Newton’s core argument seems to be that Raymond is a decent person who has led a courageous high profile campaign, and that (on that basis) he should be appointed as The Victims Commissioner.

    Unfortunately, Newtons journalism in this instance is badly researched (in terms of Newtons knowledge of the recruitment process). Either that, or he has just totally ignored it. Either way, it is low level populist journalism with little or no research, and which also lacks any credible factual basis to support his ultimate conclusion.

  • rapunsel

    I agree and a key point to note which can never be tken away is that Rymond McCord will likely already have achieved more and will do so in the future for victims than the past or due to be appoited VC ever will

  • susan

    Good contributions, Rapunsell and MacSwiney. I am not convinced that Raymond McCord is the best person for the position either, but I think it is regrettable he was not at least granted an interview, given how successful he has already been in bringing the plight of victims to the attention of the media far and wide. Ironically, his rejection letter claims he failed to meet the criteria for demonstrating an “ability to work effectively with the media.”

    The letter also declares that McCord has not demonstrated “an awareness of the consequences of the conflict in Northern Ireland or similar situations elsewhere”. If Raymond McCord has not demonstrated an awareness of the consequences of the conflict, who has? The authors of “Lost Lives,” certainly, but how many others?

    The assessment panel did give McCord full marks in three areas – commitment to promoting the interests of victims, an ability to work with victims from different sections of the community, and an ability to empathise with victims.

    Best person for the job? I am not certain. McCord may well continue to make a greater contribution without being hampered by the requirements and limits of the post. But worthy of an interview, or at least a rejection letter that singles out his unique contributions and shows an awareness of both his personal suffering and dogged determination? Absolutely.

  • Shore Road Resident

    The point you’re all ignoring is that the NIO shouldn’t be appointing commissioners over us in the first place.

  • McKelvey

    I don’t know for certain whether or not Mr. McCord is qualified. However, I’m surprised at Emerson’s reaction, considering he is every bit as much an elitist as the people directing the NIO.

  • Marie Antoinette

    Mick Hall:
    What a long post you make.
    NI was much better before these Troubles when people knew their place and those horrid men Paisley and Adams had yet to get the vox populi.
    One can only take so much. It is bad enough Prince William had a girlfriend, who called the lavatory a toilet and whose mother actually chewed gum at William’s passing out parade (in front of HM THe Queen no less!) but these concessions to the peasants have to end. Mr McCord should go back to pigeon racing or whatever it is his type do when they are not making noise about something or other.

  • Mickhall

    The two Mac’s have both made interesting points but Susan has hit the nail on the head and what exactly is meant by the statement that the victims campaigner lacks “awareness of the conflict”, “an ability to deal with the media” and “written presentational skills”
    To me this seems more like a political clip around the ears for Mr McCord rather than a genuine reason as to why he was not considered for the post. For christ sake, David Blunkett lacked written presentational skills but this did not stop him become the UK’s Home Secretary, as he had civil servants to put his thoughts to paper.

    Maybe come the interviews etc Mr McCord would not have turned out to be the best candidate, but by short listing him it would have sent out a strong message that those who campaign for the victims, are on the same side as the State. Instead his exclusion for the most ridiculous of reasons makes it appear the opposite is true, something many of us have believed for some time.

  • Mickhall

    Citizen Marie Antoinette
    For all your beauty, with your track record, I am not sure it would be wise for us peasants, nor indeed your chums at the Palace to take advice from you.

    PS, forgive me but is it wise for you to write so openly, after all it is known Robiespierre secret police lurk on Slugger.

  • Newton Emerson

    A point I’d no space to mention in this article, but have included in the Irish News today, is the case of David Burrows and the Parades Commission. Mr Burrows submitted an application form – subsequently leaked to the press – which revealed that he was functionally illiterate. But Peter Hain appointed him anyway, appealed a high court ruling on the legality of the appointment and said: “I will defend to the end the Northern Ireland Office appointments procedure.”
    So “written presentational skills” clearly aren’t a serious concern.
    Mr McCord’s actual rejection letter from the NIO, printed in yesterday’s Telegraph, cited “oral, written and presentational skills” – which makes last month’s NIO trip to the White House all the more relevant. If Mr McCord can be presented to the chimp-in-chief, is the NIO seriously suggesting that he isn’t fit to appear on Newsline?
    As for the point about managing an office, what do you think the Office Manager is for? Even the Children’s Commissioner has a staff of 25, including a 4-strong specialist (if incompetent) legal team, plus a seperate board of advisers. The lucky winner of this £60k+ commissioner’s post will hardly be expected to oversee the filing system.

  • Mickhall


    Why was he excluded from the short list, middle class prejudice, fear of the truth, to placate secret policemen before their ball at the grand opening of their new building, to keep the police Fed on side, to bury the past.

    As you have made clear the official reason is hogwash.

    All the best

  • alsorejected


  • alsorejected

    Apologies for previous slip.
    I too was rejected for this job. I was not even short-listed.
    Let me tell you about myself.
    I am a Nationalist.
    Born and bred in Northern Ireland, in a conflict-ridden community.
    I have a Politics degree with concentration in Conflict resolution from one of the world’s top universities, with a famous participant in the peace process supervising my honours dissertation.
    While overseas studying for this degree at a US ivy league Uni, I spent four years on a race relations board. I spent 3 years working with AIDS victims, I spent another 2.5 years working with immigrant groups ( all voluntary while I was studying).
    I spent 4 years in a ‘formidable’ position with a well-known public relations and communications firm, working with the all media outlets.
    I left this job to return to take my MA in International politics, returning home to do that at Queen’s University, again concentrating in conflict and discourse analysis( albeit it was International conflict). I got a distinction award in my MA.

    There was not ONE criteria that I did not meet, and meet very well, on my application. I was not even short-listed. The only thing I can figure out is that I do not have a family member lost in the troubles.

  • gareth mccord

    your a asshole thats why!!
    dont mock the victims [text removed – moderator]

  • Shore Road Resident

    Gareth, alsorejected wasn’t mocking the victims, just questioning the appointment process.

  • alsorejected

    your a asshole thats why!!
    dont mock the victims because if i bump into you , you might come close to one! ‘

    I truly doubt that any of the Mc Cord family actually wrote the above.
    Mock victims? Do not be ridiculous.

  • susan

    Newton Emerson, yesterday I linked the Telegraph story reprinting the rejection letter in full on Slugger’s “McCord Rejected for Victims Commissioner” thread. I must have then spent how many minutes staring at a blank comments box, wishing I had both time and talent to spark some sort of debate over what seemed to me a gross mishandling of Mr McCord’s application and another lost opportunity in public trust.

    After finally hitting submit on a few forlorn sentences, I quite soon discovered you’d all ready said it all, said it well, and Mick Fealty had blogged it; So well done, you; many thanks.

    Here is the link once again to the Telegraph article and the full text of Mr McCord’s rejection letter, for any who missed it:


    Mick Hall, your post is the best summation of why the treatment of Raymond McCord in this matter is such a travesty, above and beyond adding insult to the grievous injuries he’s already suffered: Mick Hall: ” Maybe come the interviews etc Mr McCord would not have turned out to be the best candidate, but by short listing him it would have sent out a strong message that those who campaign for the victims, are on the same side as the State.”

    Exactly. However qualified the 46 applicants may be — and as Alsorejected’s post proves many are qualified and committed indeed — there can be few individuals with Raymond McCord’s record of standing up to violence and intimidation regardless of the sources of the violence and intimidation. It is not enough merely to denounce paramilitary violence and ignore violence and intimidation sourced or tolerated by the state. Fair treatment of McCord’s application was an opportunity to restore public trust where it is most broken and vulnerable.

    McCord deserves thanks and consideration for all he has achieved, and hats off to Newt, Mick and others out to see that he gets it.

  • susan

    Alsorejected you have a world to give and there is a world to gain from your contributions; hope this setback does not derail you for long.

  • gareth mccord

    I apologize if i got the wrong end of the stick!!
    But it seemed to me that you were using the point of my fathers lost son a situation he abused!
    Im sure you would agree, that my father would have rather had your situation, of NOT having a family member lost in the troubles!!
    So in that thought you should feel very lucky and happy.
    once again i apologize and good luck!!

  • alsorejected

    Gareth no offense taken at all and I do appreciate the apology. I have grown to admire your father very much as most compassionate and heartfelt people have. He is to be highly commended for his work. I certainly would never slight any victim or their families, because they bore the cost so often of a courrupt and rotten system.
    There is something very wrong with the whole system in its entirety. A person like me, and so many others have so much to give to our community. I and many others have the formal education, the experiences of the world etc., to make a huge contribution to our society. What do we face- constant rejection in a system that is neither based on merit or respect.
    Our economy is based on a ‘who you know’ and not what it should be- on brains, proven value and experience.
    Until we face this and demand change we can have all the inward investment in the world, all the fine London and Dublin money thrown our way! It will make no matters anyway.
    I have outlined my qualifications before. Unfortunately, there is no place for an ivy league educated, top of the lne experienced and good honest compassionate person within the Northen Irish economy. I have applied for jobs in London, New York and other places, I have been offered jobs in the best of places at the best of salary. But I can’t get a job where I want it, at home among my family and friends. And there you have it.

  • gareth mccord

    you sound a good person but i know the reason you didnt get the job!
    You would have made a difference and got what the british gov doesnt want, truth and justice!!
    good luck!!

  • Marie Antoinette

    You have to be fair about this. When the Catholic Bishops’ Conference set up their Overseas Prisoners’ Office in the early 1980s/late 1970s, their chief advisor was that woman who is now the President of Eire. The job went to a Catholic toadie and I am sure has always gone to one. One can easily see what might have happened by giving it to someone anyway sympathetic to “political prisoners”, even someojne like Fr Faul.

    Although all honest people would stand in awe at the bravery and even godliness of Mr McCord, that is not the way the system can or probably should even work. The British government is now trying to bring the UVF and UFF kilers in from the cold. Many, maybe most people here would regard those killers very poorly. Yet they have to be neutralised and the old order, built on recurring lies, reestablished. We have to look no further than the First Minister and Deputy Minsiter (Pasiley and McGuinness) to see this.