Should Monica resign..?

PETE’S already noted the launch of the consultation paper on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, in which it becomes quickly apparent that the Government has basically thrown out most of the advice from the NI Human Rights Consortium for straying beyond its remit, lack of regard to the national and international contexts (ie, stuff already in place or about to be), unrealistic expectations, and so on.

The NIHRC says it “will now carefully consider the Government?s proposals before issuing a full response in due course”. The question is; if that response to the Government has as much influence as the advice did, what will the Chief Commissioner do?

If you support the NIHRC’s maximalist approach to rights, then the body has been hopelessly ineffective at getting its work into the Bill. If you don’t, then the NIHRC is guilty of wilfully ignoring what it was asked to do, at considerable public expense.

So either way, is it time for the human rights commissioner to go? UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy certainly thinks so, writing:

Today’s NIO consultation document is a stunning rejection of the frankly ridiculous proposals made by Monica McWilliams and a majority of the NIHRC commissioners. As the document states ‘over half the rights proposed in the NIHRC’s advice’ fall outside the remit given in the Agreement. In regards to the NIHRC proposals on language rights, the NIO document again states that they ‘cannot be said to reflect particular circumstances in Northern Ireland’. On the matter of children’s rights, the NIO document notes that 7 of the 8 proposals do not ‘meet the criterion set out in the Agreement’.

Monica McWilliams and the NIHRC were consistently warned by the UUP that her proposals fell far outside the remit given by the Agreement. These warnings were ignored and rubbished by the NIHRC. Now the Government has vindicated the stance taken by the UUP.

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  • joeCanuck

    Unfortunately we had the same nonsense here in Canada 20 years ago. “Right” to housing, “right” to a job etc; no thought about what that meant to the Government given the homeless (by happenstance or irresponsible choices) and the unemployed.
    Wisely rejected in a referendum and the Government that tried it was reduced to 2 seats from 170 or so in the next election.

  • Marty McG

    McWilliams and those who supported her should get the OBB…Order of the Boot and pronto!!!

  • BonarLaw

    Now that their stance has largely been vindicated I wonder whether the treatment of the dissenting Commissioners by will be revisited?

  • slug

    I agree she should resign. The NIHRC has made a pigs ear of their remit.


    They should have gone for something more sensible and limited.

  • igor

    The whole quango should be abolished along with the Equality Commission and we should start again with one organisation with a new, tightly defined and clear remit and clear performance targets

    This has been a total mess

  • Trev

    The to the blog question is of course yes.

    However that answer only applies in the real world and not in the fantasy that is NI.

    Why pick on Monica? Cast your eyes over those who populate the many quangos that operate here. Not too many stars are there?

    Fools, political placemen (and women) living a lie as ‘independents’, those rewarded for toeing the line and a never changing central cabal that floats from one job to another.

    Then again look at the individuals who actually get elected. Most of them don’t have an original idea in their heads and can hardly string two words together when asked even the simplest question.

    So no bright lights around to put even Monica in the shade.

  • iluvni

    I thought Ian Parlsey’s submission fairly nailed it.

  • brendan,Belfast

    Of course she should go. She should never have been appointed in the first place. A woman who has achieved zero of note in her ‘career’. The entire human rights agenda panders to a tiny minority who frankly know very little of the real world.

  • bollix

    parsley’s submission is quite good really, although i think he goes a bit far in saying that certain “group rights” or “communal rights” are incapable of being human rights

  • aquifer

    Parsley is pretty much on the money. We need protection from ‘communal’ or ‘group’ rights. We didn’t need a contemporary wish list where the request for more is re-written as a right.

    Does Monica believe that bourgois democracy is worth developing here, a potential win-win for all individuals, or does she believe that this is class struggle feminist struggle and a struggle for irish national independence where the individual is irrelevant and the priority is to stir disaffection with the status quo?

    Does she want democracy to work and individuals to enjoy real protection?

    Democracy has the advantage that is it is about ‘becoming’, it is not prescriptive, unlike the inflated popular front wish list model the draft bill of rights became.

    Individuals here face outrageous sectarian threats and victimisation, and democracy needed protection and safeguards to work. A bill of rights commissioner needed to examine what goes on on the ground here, and to analyse the mechanisms at work locally, before proposing specific corrective and protective measures. Paramilitaries run and ruin lives here and this is criminal and wrong, not the cutting edge of class struggle.

    Rights are irrelevant if ordinary people cannot get them. i.e. They should be available over a counter, or after hours for people who work for a living, and not necessarily handed down by a judge.

    The intervention at Holy Cross was an outrageous squandering of the neglible political capital that the commission possessed. It may have been ‘right’ in a principled liberal student martyr kind of way, but was entirely disfunctional in terms of getting effective rights in place.

    With the previous commissioner Brice Dickson having recanted the approach continued by Monica, her position looks unsustainable.

    We paid in full for the GFA, complete with the bill of rights as set out in the legislation.

    Monica took the money and did not deliver.

    We have been short changed. Again.

    She must go.

  • Seymour Major

    This was always going to be a flawed exercise from the start. Human Rights are, after all, for human beings.

    Is Northern Irleand populated by a seperate group of human sub-species?

    Can anybody actually think of a human right which should be distinct for Northern Ireland?

    You could do worse than the right to eating an Ulster fry after 9.00 am

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree with Ian’s submission. Although it’s the only submission I’ve now read 🙂

    Seymour, I think we definitely need to add the right to be appointed to cosy wee public jobs to produce documents full of waffle while our social and economic infrastructure crumbles.

  • zoonpol
  • disinterested observer

    ‘Is Northern Irleand populated by a seperate group of human sub-species?’

    Seymour sometimes I think it is …

  • parsleys cat

    Parsleys submission noted above refers to the Previous Human Rights Commission report, “Making a Bill of Rights”, issued in September 2001, and not the current advice or Bill of Rights Forum report, and current debate.

    In fact parsley sat on the Bill of Rights forum for the alliance party, and seemd happy with that partys positions.

  • Framer

    It is not just Monica who should resign but the whole crew of commissioners who went wildly beyond the remit in the Belfast Agreement.

    So out go socio-economic, environmental and children’s rights etc.

    What’s left is questionable too i.e. to “consider where there is a need for additional protections to prevent individuals from being forced out of their home by sectarian intimidation or harassment.”

    This means being able to sue paramilitaries and associated mobs under any new bill of rights!!!

    The voluntary sector and CAJ are strangely silent about the NIO vindicating the two commissioners who held out against the nonsense.

    Given that Atlantic Philanthropies is shipping another container load of Feeney dollars their way means the longer the struggle the greater the job security.

  • LabourNIman

    Mcwilliams appointment to the role was a joke to start off with – booted out of the assembly so the government did her a solid and gave her a job for a few years.

    Time for us all to move on and get a fresh face in the commission to give us something NI can actually use

  • LittlePerson

    Amongst all this verbiage spewing forth from McWilliams and her crew can anyone direct me to where the word RESPONSIBILITIES is used.
    Can anyone direct me to where the RIGHTS of those we all see week in and week out standing outside the Courts crying against the lack of justice, are mentioned.
    Does McWilliams care?? Does it rain in Ireland??

  • Turgon

    I must disagree with most of you. McWilliams must not resign. If she did then someone with a bit more political wit might produce something similar dressed up better to make it get through. Instead McWilliams’s dreadful submission will ensure it goes nowhere. Indeed maybe she is a Machiavellian opponent of the rights industry and has deliberately engineered this debacle: err; no she is not that bright.

    However, if she did resign then Woodward or some other politician would have to find here another job: the likes of McWilliams cannot after all be without public paid employment; she could not possibly be expected to work for her living. Hence, if she resigned she would have to be given some other function to make a mess of. Maybe best to keep her ineffectually where she is.

  • Anyway,Monica is really a good politician.