Discrimination claim over NIHRC Chief Commissioner

The abandonment of a recruitment exercise for the NIHRC Chief Commissioner and a new process that led to the appointment of Monica McWilliams is to be scrutinised by an Industrial Tribunal. John Cushnahan, the former Alliance Party leader and Fine Gael MEP, was the best candidate in the abandoned process and he has alleged discrimination in the appointment.

  • Zac

    How do we know he was “the best candidate”?

    When I heard the report on Radio Ulster, I thought the alleged “rumours” of Monica McWilliams getting the post before she had even applied much more worrying!

  • Quaysider

    Lord Laid flagged this up nearly a year before McWilliams’ appointment – he asked a question in Westminster, didn’t he?
    It’s all rotten to the core.

  • fair_deal

    Zac

    “How do we know he was “the best candidate”?

    As I understand it, he could get access to the scoring etc of the candidates

  • BonarLaw

    The feedback policy would allow any applicant to see his scores from the interview and ask whether or not anyone scored higher.

  • Zac

    Thanks, bl, fd

    If that is the case (and I’m not doubting it for a minute), there would need to be some very extenuating circumstances or reasoning for not awarding the position to him. If the alleged rumours from three different sources are correct and the position was earmarked for Monica McWilliams even before the post was published, I would imagine there would be huge financial penalties at stake here. Even worse, the questions would then be “who?” and “why?” Is someone in the Human Rights Commission suspected of having orchestrated this or does it go even higher? I’m sure there are interesting weeks and months ahead.

  • fair_deal

    Zac

    AFAIK the NIO not the NIHRC handled the appointments process

  • This is disgusting. Talk about cronyism. The auld doll couldn’t get elected but we like her so we’ll give her a job anyway, is that how it works?

    The whole quango-culture in local politics is something that really needs tackling anyway. We have far too many commissions and agencies and boards offering pointless cushy jobs and all being funded out of the public purse at that.

  • darth rumsfeld

    ho hum
    “Alliance type complains that he’s been overlooked for quango” is right up there with “man bites dog” for bizarre stories.

    Funny how the rottenness at the core of the NIO was fine and dandy for years when there was no Wimmins Coalition flotsam and jetsam floating about looking for a wee handout

  • T.Ruth

    Presumably Mr.Cushnahan would have been happy to accept the appointment when he was “head hunted” for it. He had no concern then for the rights of other possible capable candidates. He is in no position now to complain now although it is clear that Mrs.Bell’s appointment was curious-especially since she seemed to lack appropriate skills, knowledge and experience.
    Could I point out that there are several quangoes where those appointed after an exhaustive application and interview process do not receive payment of any kind. I think all those who put themselves forward for quango service to the community should do so on a voluntary basis.Then we would see who has the genuine public interest at heart.

    T.Ruth

  • Zac

    fair_deal, my suspension is that this may have been brought about as a result of a political side deal. Do you know if others are thinking this or am I wide of the mark? It certainly sounds very suspicious and definately one to watch as I am sure such discrimination would require quite a high level of involvment.

  • Alan

    Interesting case – of course, there is the issue of whether the appointments panel saw Cushnahan as “appointable”. If they did not, then there would be no problem with simply saying “No, re-advertize”, even if he came top of the list. Wonder how they minuted the decision.

    Also, what does it mean ‘when Monica was selected and he wasn’t selected as a commissioner’ – did he apply separately as a comissioner, but not as Chief Commissioner ?

  • fair_deal

    Zac

    NI is full of suspicions. I think most people in political circles had heard the rumour to which he referred ( I have a nagging suspicion I read a passing mention of it in the irish news but my memory could be at fault on that point). The Tribunal will see if suspicion can be proven

    Alan

    “what does it mean ‘when Monica was selected and he wasn’t selected as a commissioner’ – did he apply separately as a comissioner, but not as Chief Commissioner ?”

    Don’t know. I found that curious phrasing too.

  • the appointer

    Presumably Mr.Cushnahan would have been happy to accept the appointment when he was “head hunted” for it.

    I agree, ‘head hunting’ is a dangerous concept. It means that candidates are not appointed on a merit basis but it appears that Mr Cushnahan was quite happy with this process as long as he got the job… when he didn’t he complains. Tough!!!

  • neefer

    T.Ruth (May 1 but I’ve just sobered up long enough to notice) refers to Monica as “Mrs. Bell” – surely, T., you’re not suggesting that the NIHRC is where all the unelectable Alliance types end up? BTW did anyone else get canvassed by Brice Dickson for guess which party?