Victims champions will have to wait

As I pointed out in comment 23 here, the Chuckle Brothers can’t appoint four Victims Commissioners, because the legislation is for a single appointment. Unusually, it is the Newsletter that (as far as I have seen) are the only mainstream media outlet that have picked up on this matter (no link, pg 8):

“A change in the law and a vote in the Assembly will be required to fully anoint the appointees and that will take months”

Months may well be an understatement. Isn’t really a minor amendment to the Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Order. What this requires is a change from a Commissioner to a Commission, and that will change the nature of the project envisaged by the legislation. If the First and Deputy First Minister couldn’t agree on a single name, it doesn’t leave great confidence that they can find an agreeable path leading to a new legislative framework. Not least amongst the problems will be the definition of who is and who is not a victim, an issue (debated to an extent here) on which the Chuckle Brothers are unlikley to agree.

I used to write and get paid, now I read and don’t.

Former UUP staffer, currently living in London. @mjshilliday

  • Dewi
  • Mark McGregor

    Though the UUP must have endorsed the process too with the utterly bizarre selection of a former TV presenter.

  • Question 1: what is the point of Eames-Bradley if we’re having a Victims’ Commission?

    Question 2: do people think this doesn’t piss voters off?

  • DC

    The only real issue here is money. People will not be impressed at the likes of Nesbitt and co drawing down a bloated salary to work in the public interest for those people who have been marred and mowed down by various belligerents’ actions.

    The Government should negotiate contracts with a view to reduction.

    I have always been far from agreeing with both DUP / SF but on this one it was always a task above one person’s judgement and we all know the obvious reasons why. To simply say each one is appropriate seems a little trite, especially without preferences or reasons.

    So I wouldn’t agree with that stance, not least for the highly contested sphere in which a single person has to operate in, much of which is linked to politicization of the situation, politization of which those that now mock failed to provide sufficient answers for thereby making redundant the need for such appointments.

    But it will be now over to the victims and their families to decide about whether they are content with this choice and also to see if their expectations are indeed matched with appropriate outcomes.

    As things stand it seems politically wise but the general public will not be happy to see those selected persons receive a lot of cash in the process of trying to heal wounds and settle views on appropriate terminology about what has happened to people here over the past number of war-like decades.

  • The Penguin

    Keep going and every victim will soon have their very own commissoner.

  • Observer

    I listened to Wee Jeffrey justifying four commissioners on Talkback. He was rude and patronising towards Alan McBride who had been pulled onto the programme to give a first reaction to the breaking news. Alan pointed out that his first thoughts were that the four salaries could be seen as a waste of money. Mr Donaldson kept insisting that this extra salary money would not be taken out of the money earmarked for the victims and indeed that their budget was to be enhanced. He repeated this mantra a number of times. Where is the extra salary money coming from then? Is Jeffrey going to chip in from his many salaries or is the DUP central office going to make a contribution? The reality is the money will be coming from the public purse and it hardly matters to me, or Mr McBride, whether the victims cash bucket is untouched or not. It would appear that this was the only compromise in town to actually appoint four commissioners and it is expensive in more ways than pure salary. The chuckle brothers will continue to chuckle but watch out for more of these bizarre compromises. Did moneybags Robinson not have a fit when he heard about this additional expenditure?

  • DC

    The Irish government should step in and help out with the cash to make up for many a year denying a problem was to be had in their own backyard.

  • Mark McGregor

    Is anyone actually buying this ‘chuckle brothers’ stuff? It seems pretty clear the UUP and SDLP signed up along with SF and the DUP for the separate fiefdoms principle.

    Just like the budget objections disappearing once the UUP and SDLP got a few crumbs from Robbo its another example of an opposition at Stormont that doesn’t really exist because it can be bought.

  • Mark McGregor

    And the APNI objecting is equally farcical, the NIO’s favoured partners in quango for decades can’t raise a credible objection on this topic.

  • The Dubliner

    DC, that’s not a persuasive argument for why the taxpayers of another State finance the overspending of foreign politicians. You elected, you pay for it – or, rather, you elected them and the British taxpayers pay for it.

    Why all the sudden prudence about public spending now? Is it because money is being spent on easing the suffering of a group of people who you are fortunately not among? I don’t recall such outrage when Margaret Ritchie got an extra 200 million of hardworking taxpayers’ money to spend on social housing for those who don’t contribute to society, or when public money is squandered elsewhere.

    Indeed, I’d rather the Republic of Ireland donated the 800 million Euros of Irish taxpayers money that it donated to Northern Ireland to people who are far more deserving and in far greater need of charity. But whatever…

    It’s pretty obvious that this farce is designed to make the public utterly sick of all matters related to justice for the victims, most of whom the Deputy First Minister and the First Minister are directly and indirectly, respectively, responsible for creating. Since that is an inconvenient truth, it is in “society’s best interests” to overlook it.

  • DC


    I agree with you that money should be spent and the number of people involved is an indication of the complexity of the issues remaining outstanding.

    We need only look to the Assembly to see the oversupply of democratic representation for the people of a place smaller than some council regions.

    Nonetheless it is all part of a messy process of moving on ensuring buy in at all levels which is proving costly.

    But I don’t buy your cut and dry stance about ‘foreign’ due to the Republic’s role in the governance of Northern Ireland from around 1985 onwards, quickly followed by the concept of struggle relating to an Irish problem of which the Republic had its own part. Both in terms of problems and solutions.

    But yes the people up here should pay for it I am just keen to explore the option of whether those individuals involved might be open to greatly reduced salaries due to sharing responsibilities and public attitudes.

  • Eddie

    The Dubliner said:

    “Margaret Ritchie got an extra 200 million of hardworking taxpayers’ money to spend on social housing for those who don’t contribute to society”

    Could The Dubliner explain to us what the hell he/she means by this? I’ve never lived in “social housing” by, by God, if I was starting off again now in 2008, it would be the only way I could put a roof over our heads.

  • dewi

    Surely they can circumvent the Law by just calling these people a slightly different name?

  • willowfield

    Then they’d be in breach of the existing law by failing to implement it.