NIHRC’s “greatest achievement during the past year…”?

According to the NIO press release, NI Minister of State Paul Goggins “has praised the tireless work of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) as he laid their tenth Annual Report and Accounts before Parliament.” The Commission [total operating costs for 2009 £1,766,407] also has its own press release. Interestingly, the Commission’s report [pdf file] commits it to “work with government to secure implementation of the Commission’s advice on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.” That’s despite the government having effectively already rejected that “advice” – in the words of the Chief Commissioner, Monica McWilliams, presenting that advice was the Commission’s “greatest achievement during the past year”. And in the foreword, Monica McWilliams [2009 salary £72,021], declares that “Our legal team was granted leave to intervene in two important human rights cases at the House of Lords which helped to build our reputation as third party intervenors.” Which is odd. Because here’s what the Law Lords had to say about the NIHRC’s intervention in one of those cases

[Lord Hoffman] “An intervention is however of no assistance if it merely repeats points which the appellant or respondent has already made. An intervener will have had sight of their printed cases and, if it has nothing to add, should not add anything. It is not the role of an intervener to be an additional counsel for one of the parties. This is particularly important in the case of an oral intervention. I am bound to say that in this appeal the oral submissions on behalf of the NIHRC only repeated in rather more emphatic terms the points which had already been quite adequately argued by counsel for the appellant.”

Additionally, the Commission’s report hasn’t been updated to note the publication of the government’s consultation document on that NI Bill of Rights.

donate to keep slugger lit