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.

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  • Drumlins Rock

    (to quote alice in wonderland incase this is taken as a threat)
    She must be sacked, yes that bill of rights was quite an achievement, but the achievement was to waste thousand upon thousands on a completely useless exercise, how she could have made such a mess of it is unbelieveable, she actually makes the childrens commissioner look professional.

  • Cynic2

    Ah well. £1.7m last year and the scores on the dooors of the House of Lords were

    PSNI 2: 0 Commission.

    Just how much public money did they waste needlessly pursing these hopeless cases – indeed funding the applicants to do so.

    And in the Holy Cross case there was clear evidence that the RUC had written to the Commission during the Holy Cross dispute, briefed them on its analysis and asked formally for its advice. That advice, in a letter from the then commissioner, was that they agreed with the RUC’s position. But then a cabal within the Commission launched a legal action.

    I do wonder why. Perhaps a Select Committee or the auditors (now that all that money was wasted) could ask Monica who made that decision and why?

  • iluvni

    £72k for McWilliams. Waste of public money.
    Would that pay the wages of 3 street cleaners in Belfast city centre?
    I know which would be of more use to the community.

    I’d apply that test to quite a few of the jobs these troughers appoint each other to.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    And why is there no mention of the off-budget NIHRC grants from the US Atlantic Philanthropies which run into hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for Monica McWilliams’s never ending campaign ? The funder of course which is led in NI by former CAJ head, Martin O’Brien.
    Funny that the opposition to Ms. McWilliams’s campaign didn’t get a brass farthing from the Yank moneybags outfit, eh ? Ah yes, if you can’t fund your campaign out of your own generous budget then you just go outside it to a foreign body to pursue your politics-by-other-means. It’s your “right.” Well, it’s Monica’s “right” but not the “right” of her critics. Can’t have a level playing field here, oh no. That would never do for the politically correct crowd.
    Eric Waugh has some fine comments on the NIHRC shenanigans in yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph: =
    Time for Monica to do the decent thing. Resign. Not holding out much hope of that.

  • granni trixie

    GFAS: Waugh always seems to make snide remarks of this kind. He shows little awarenes of why people seek assurance about their rights in NI….inequalities bred dissent, remember?.

    Regarding NIHRC and value for money, at least the NIO turned down their requests last year for pension provisions for Commissioners (who unlike volunteers in other org. already get 10,000 each).

  • wild turkey

    re human rights

    lately i’ve noticed a lot of large billboards around belfast telling me to sign up and get my human rights. and then last week i received in the post a stylish glossy document asking me to sign on the dotted to get my human rights.

    anyone have any idea who is paying for this?


    ego futurus ut purgo meus existence

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Granni Trixie, you did not comment on the major question of Monica McWilliams’s applying for and receiving major grants from the foreign (US) Atlantic Philanthropies, headed by ex Committee for the Administration of Justice head, Martin O’Brien. Can you please indicate if your approve of this politics-by-other-means which is what it is — critics of an exclusively NI Bill of Rights would never be funded by Chuck Feeney’s foundation, which, remember, paid for Sinn Fein’s offices in Washington etc. for at least two years, which is a clear indication where A P’s political interests lie, no argument. Do you think it is right that NIHRC continues Ms. McWilliams’s campaign by going way outside its own UK budget ? Over to you. Do you favour a level intellectual playing field or not ? And I am no conservative. I just believe — like Professor Brice Dickson, Ms. McWilliams’s predecessor — that a separate all-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to human rights, as Ms. McW wishes, is a meddlers’ charter and transfers responsibilities from the electorate and their representatives to unelected judges and quangos. Now THAT is the kind of right I don’t want. Let’s elect people to make laws, like them or not and not rely on the UNelected. Well ?

  • granni trixie

    Wild Turkey: have you been on mars?
    What did you think that GFAgreementbutrealist was referring to above (you gave me a laf though).

    GFAS:NO I do not think it is fair to slag off Monica personally all the time- anyway, you are doing quite nicely on that front any.

    However, since you challenge me, let me correct you: she could not have applied to AA as AA do not accept applications (they claim their staff know best whats what and defend the closed system because it is Chuck Feeneys own money). This system and lack of transparency is one of the things I hold against AA. Under this system for instance the Human Rights Trust (set up whilst leading the CAJ by Martin OBrien) gets eye watering amounts of money from AA (and you can contact HR Trust by the way by email which, as it happens, is the CAJ email number.
    Would be good to identifry who is on the HR TRust?

  • David Crookes

    Highly paid quasi-legal ‘troughers’ (iluvni’s word, #3) are like climatologists: they try to keep themselves employed by causing trouble. They’re part of the benefits-culture disease in NI.

    It really is a disease. Say we set up an Ulster Culture Agency tomorrow. A chief executive will be appointed. He will earn at least £50,000 per annum. He will drive a car that costs four or five times what mine cost. He will sit in a palatial panelled office. He will go on junket-trips to Honolulu and Beijing. If he ever has to visit Dublin, he will take a taxi. He will stay in the most expensive possible hotel when he attends the International Haggis Festival. And so on. And so on.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Granni Trixie: fair enough. You are shedding much needed light on the politics-by-other-means-by-using-BigBucks route. This is indeed worth checking out. I don’t quite understand why you write “AA” ? I assume you mean “AP” ? And if Martin O’Brien set up the so-called “Human Rights Trust,” as I am sure you are right about, while he was head of the Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ), then surely there is a CONFLICT OF INTEREST here. For a grant making organization’s executives to make grants to organizations they set up is a no-no certainly in foundation/charity circles. As for the Human Rights Trust’s email being the same as the CAJ one, if that is indeed the case — and I have no reason to doubt you — then this is a disgrace. There clearly is a massive conflict of interest — but it is no moral interest to A P or M O’Brien. The US Supreme Court recently allowed companies to use their own money to lobby, which Obama has, rightly, criticised. This is defined by a Bush-selected Sup Court as “free speech” (!). It seems that money-as-speech is now practised in the UK through A P! Outrageous. Decades ago any newspaper mogul who could buy ink by the barrel could campaign for bad causes and against good ones. Now, getting foreign money for the NI “human rights” lobby, is the new version of this. There should be legislation against this corruption of influence.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Granni Trixie: good steer. I had forgotten how massive the Chuck Feeney/Martin O’Brien funding of the rights industry was. For the “Human Rights Trust,” alone between 2006 and 2009 (or is it just through 2008?), Atlantic Philanthropies web site shows that it gave a staggering (Pounds)5,586,700 — no that’s not a typo, we are talking over five and a have million Pounds! — to the Human Rights Trust! e.g. just one grant for 2006-2008 of (Pounds)673,000 was “To bring about a STRONG Bill of Rights for NI by increasing the ADVOCACY and LOBBYING capacity of the NI Human Rights Consoretium.” And, as you say, when you click on “Human Rights Trust,” on the A P website, under grants, you are transfered to, lo and behold, …..CAJ’s website!
    Well what a revealing web of connections. Depressing too, when you consider that millions of pounds could have gone to better causes.
    For interested readers:;=&keywords=Enter exact word or phrase&sort=Grantee&order=DESC
    AND:;=&keywords=Enter exact word or phrase&sort=Grantee&order=DESC

  • granni trixie

    GFAS: I have a different take on the above –
    The system of AT Phil (‘its my money and I’ll do what I want for it’) illustrates a cultural difference, as in NI, grant making Trusts and charities are expected to show transparency,open access and fairness.

    It will be fascinating to see what the newly formed Charities Commission in NI will make of AP practices – will it be one rule for us (in NI) and another for monies from abroad (in this case made from profits from selling smokes and drink in airport duty frees).

    Having said all that, if I were on the committee of a wee voluntary group working for a good cause and At Phil approached me, I would grab the money with both hands though in my heart I would still recognise the system which lead to my door was unfair.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Granni Trixie:
    it is not neccessarily a “cultural difference.” In the US, for example, all charities are required under law, to file an Internal Revenue Service tax return, showing their grants and their details and salaries of senior programme people and managers. There is oversight by the IRS and the US Congress and charities have got in trouble for skirting responsibilities. So it is not neccessarily more lax in the US at all. I agree that with A P people grab the money and run if they are lucky enough to get a grant. But the distortion of any fair system which a goliath like A P has done and continues to do, makes a mockery of democratic practice. If you can spent huge amounts of money without any pretention to fairness then this is wrong and there needs to be legislation to deal with it.
    Any new NI Charities Commission should apply the same rules to foreign funders as to UK or Irish ones otherwise there will continue to be political meddling which is massively skewed.

  • granni trixie

    Thanks for that GFABR (re American system).

    Surprised you did not mention that AP actually got CRJ sysem going originally, whcih, from your perspective, is more evidence of using big bucks to make new systems not to mention social engineering.

    Having said that,I would have no regrets about getting some of those big bucks to do work on sectarianism/separation but then a cultural analysis would probably not suit AP’s.

    For the record,a new Charities Commission for NI HAS been set up,has set up a timetable for all local charities to register but is likely to be fully functional sometime this year (but has a website).

  • Framer

    The NIO after taking legal advice agreed that NIHRC could take the offered hundreds of thousands of pounds fron Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies.

    NIHRC said it needed the money to campaign to secure its advice to the NIO on a bill of rights was implenmented in legislation.

    So the NIO allows a statutory body to seek money from America to campaign for something which it (the NIO) has largely rejected.

    Woodward is disappearing up his own ass.

    Makes Iris’s donations for Kirk look like pin money.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Grannie T:
    I DO know about the Community Restorative Justice and other endeavours but left it out this time.
    The A P funding behomoth needs to be exposed and tamed and a new charities commission which cd do that is fine but in the meantime, we need to shine the spotlight of transparency on A P’s massive money interventions in the political process and the role of its main NI Programme Officer in leading all this. It is a disgrace. But some people have no shame at all.

  • granni trixie

    GFA: I’ll leave that to you.

  • granni trixie

    Or maybe get David Gordon on the case – his experience would come in handy?

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Grannie T: glad you had that excellent second thought about action on this as opposed to…inaction….I was getting worried that you were succcumbing to the old NornIron, whadever ya say say nathin….David Gordon and any other probers could have a field day with the cornucopia of information out there on the web and elsewhere. Time, like in the case of the Swish Family Robinson, to do some digging in the public interest.

  • granni trixie

    GFAS:Sorry to disappoint – but I have so many other irons in the fire – productive ones.
    This is not the same as looking the other way (I still have a campaigning t-shirt after all saying “I am not a legitmate target”) but I believe in chosing ones targtets. Finito.

  • Marcionite

    Monica McWilliams also draws a hefty wage as being NI Childrens Commissioner whatever the feck that is. She’s Queen of the Quango with a season ticket for The Gravy Train, the damsel of self serving do gooding.

    What on earth has she achieved that merits all this money? Funny, I met her on the day of the referendum GFA count. She was haughty and was in a little smug cabal of SDLPers in the Kings Head. All talk about the ordinary needs of the ordinary man but snub noses abound when they come within an asparagus tips throw of a mucker

    the DUP for all their faults are the boys to cut the quangos. I hope they look into this nonsense.

  • Davros

    “lately i’ve noticed a lot of large billboards around belfast telling me to sign up and get my human rights. and then last week i received in the post a stylish glossy document asking me to sign on the dotted to get my human rights.”

    I have yet to receive one of these. Are my rights being violated? Who can I speak to?

  • David Crookes

    Grandiloquent titles, huge salaries, forget about the human rights of ordinary decent people whose streets are terrorized every night by alcoholic children, and forget about the children whose morally spasticated parents expect the state to do everything for them. Put three nurses or three cleaners or three honest-to-goodness people who do useful work out of their jobs so as to pay the salary of one grandee. Then give the said grandee a whopping great expense account. Amen, Marcionite, I hope the DUP MLAs will be motivated to make changes here. The joke is that the ‘self-serving do-gooders’ actually despise the rest of us.

  • Marcionite

    Mr Crookes, you are on the money again. Even outside politics, I am amazed at how the Mother Theresas of this world love the man abstract but not the man incarnate. I bet there’s no hoodies around Monica Quangodrawers house.

  • granni trixie

    Marcionite: you have gone too far – noone deserves such disrespect – watch your language.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Marcionite: I agree with Granni T; you are going far beyond the bounds of robust rebate; too personal. BTW, former SDLP MLA Patricia Lewsley is Children’s Commissioner; Monica could not hold that post as well. And frankly that office should be wound up. A lot of these quangos need to be cut or amalgamated with others or subsumed under an elected politician/minister/dept. in the NI Executive. Goodnight to you all!

  • David Crookes

    Marcionite, there’s a good deal of truth in ‘The Whistle Blower’. I would abolish quango chutney overnight by putting all these soft-handed do-gooders to work in the fields, but you know what would happen. They would start campaigning for Vegetable Rights.

    We should abolish so-called ‘business class’ on aeroplanes if only to stop the Lordly Ones from boring all the rest of us by talking about it. Do you ever arrive at the last minute for a long-distance flight, walk through the Zinc Class cabin or whatever they call it, and see the Lordly Ones earnestly sipping their precious champagne? I mean to say, are they going from one place to another place, or are they acting in a travelling theatre of the absurd?

    The revolution is coming. No more ‘business class’, no more personalized number-plates, no more insufferable Geldofs addressing party conferences, and no more pseudo-jobs for self-important troublemakers. Oh, and death to people who sit beside you on long train journeys and gabble high-volume gibberish into mobile phones. I’d better go to bed before I write something immoderate.

  • Cynic2

    Dear David

    If you ever really flew other than on the faux business class of bmi (which they just abolished) you would know that on true Business Class we turn left when we get on the plane while you turn right. This is to ensure that we are not troubled by the sight of you trooping through.

  • Cynic2


    Yes your rights are being violated.Indeed not telling you of them incessantly is a breach of them. you should contact the Blessed Monicka and demand immediate indoctrination. then afterwards claim for post traumatic stress induced by the process.

  • Marcionite

    my partners a nurse, doesn’t earn anywhere 70k like the Quano Queens. Feck them. Grannie Trixie, I haven’t gone far enough on these middle class parasites. People rant about welfare scroungers etc yet hardly a peep about these troughers? Until now. What’s your beef anyway? Are you one of that lot yourself? I’ve nothing to apologise for. Lewsley, McWilliams etc, cut from the same holier than thou sanctimonious £70k cloth performing non jobs that benefit noone but their own self serving fat cat selves and it’s us mugs who pay for it.

  • Marcionite

    Can anyone tell me what a childrens commissioner is for and has done in concrete terms? If I pick one kid out from the street and ask him/her what have you obtained from this commission, what would he/she tell me

    people say all kinds of things about private sector fatcats but at least that’s private money yet kid gloves for the NI cabal of quango troughers? middle class ivory tower bullshit the lot of it.

  • Davros

    They do lots of essential work to empower children and indeed create awareness of children but my personal feeling is that the existence of a children’s commissioner is discriminatory. As an adult, who has only just received his rights,I certainly feel disenfranchised.

  • granni trixie

    Marcionite:Now you turn your abuse on me. Not that it is any of your business but I am a teacher by profession who does a lot of voluntary work in their apare time for no repayment, like hundreds of others. But that does not mean I do not have a sense of fair play – which you appear not to have. On this site can we not agree some standards otherwise it undermines it and ourselves.

    Is it asking too much to ask you to try not to be savage in your remarks?

  • David Crookes

    Many thanks, your honour, I mean cynic2 (#3), but I’ve seen varied forms of the BC institution in different distant parts of the world. One reason for getting rid of BC is that self-important ‘commissioners’ will be made to acquaint themselves with the ragged trousered philanthropists whom they affect to represent. Another reason is that sad persons will be unable to bore all their friends by saying WE WERE UPGRADED TO BUSINESS CLASS as if the fact represented some kind of interesting achievement. As I wait for the revolution, I touch my forelock to your honour. Decommission the commissioners, put all ‘educationists’ to work in the fields, and abolish the system that allows one in every eight Westminster MPS to be a lawyer. Imagine if one in every eight MPS was a nurse. (Public outrage. Complaints about ‘excessive influence’.) Sometimes I think we need a Nietzschean revaluation of all values. Is everyone content with a world in which lawyers are able to have have yachts, but nurses are not?

    Northern Ireland is small enough to be able to do all kinds of exciting things if its politicians will work sensibly with each other. We can start with simple courtesies. A ban on noisy lawnmowers. A Belgian-style ban on making noise in residential areas after 10pm. A ban on the valedictory tooting of car-horns. Then we can go further. A ban on fatuous litigation. A ban on fatuous ‘benefits’. Don’t start me!

    Y’r humble & obed’t serv’t wishes you a pleasant morning, your honour.

  • Drumlins Rock

    wow wee, just spend half an hour going through Atlantic’s website, get this ladies and gentlemen, between 1982 and 2008 Mr Feeny donated 339 MILLION dollars to NI and wait for it 896 MILLION to the Republic! much of which was prob cross border, how much influence has that money bought? Had wrote of conspiracy theorys years ago, but the influence and agenda of this organisation is starting to stir up the suspiciaons once again!

  • Drumlins Rock

    It gets worse th more you read, this guy seems to be runnig the country! the childrens commissioner (who btw wasted thousands trying to get parents made criminals for smacking thier chidren) it seems is another one of mr Feensy “gifts” to Northern Ireland, from AP website “This strategy has been successful and helped persuade the government to, among other things, appoint a Commissioner for Children and Young People to address gaps in youth-justice policy.” What else has he his fingers in?

  • David Crookes

    Many thanks for your diligence, Drumlins Rock. I wonder if the munificent gentleman whom you name would let us have a Spanking Commissioner and a Golf Course Commissioner.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    A couple of final (?) thoughts:
    1. it would help I think — and I speak as a non-lawyer — given that NIHRC was/is proposing legislation, for the head of the commission to actually have a law degree or have been a practising lawyer. Ms. McWilliams does not qualify under those criteria. Prof. Brice Dickson did.
    2. Ms. McWilliams keeps saying, I understand, at public meetings, that there was no minority report on the Bill of Rights from within the commission. This is quite disingenuous and bordering on the dishonest, frankly. Daphne Trimble specifically ASKED to file a minority report but, breathtakingly, was not allowed to by Ms. McWms and her Amen Chorus! So, technically, Monica is right that there was no minority report but morally she is totally wrong because she prevented one! So much for the human rights of Lady Trimble, a law graduate and solicitor, to seek a minority report.
    With this standard of “human rights” from Ms. McW and her mates, there is just no credibility for anything this group does — which is why they and their campaign go outside commission budgets to garner at least six million pounds for polling, adverts, newspaper inserts, direct mail etc from the US based Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies led by former Committee for the Administration of Justice head, Martin O’Brien. Talk about open covenants openly NOT arrived at! This influence buying a peddling by a foreign entity would be quite illegal during any election in NI or UK. The new charities body needs to close this egregious loophole fast.

  • Drumlins Rock

    David, I think we can see Mr Feenys funding is selective, therefore he will only fund the Anti-Spanking Commissioner we already have, as for the Golf Course Commissioner, there was talk of an Elder Persons Commissioner, I’m sure that will be supported by him, maybe yuo should practise your swing.

  • Framer

    Chuck Feeney/Martin O’Brien employ more people in Northern Ireland than Bombardier.

    And by funding the Human Rights Commission they are now buying into the state.

    Be afraid when they call in their favours, if they aren’t already.

    They make Iris’s influence-buying look trivial and the PSNI are all over that.

  • David Crookes

    Drumlins Rock, an ANTI-Spanking Commissioner would be another thing altogether.

    Nearly fifty years ago, parents whose sons had begun to attend the Royal Belfast Academical Institution received what would now be called a school policy document in the post. The said document contained one memorable line: ‘It is not the policy of the School to engage in capital punishment.’ Later versions of the document replaced the word ‘capital’ with ‘corporal’.

    Now let me be serious. The United Feeney Company needs to be debated for a week in Stormont. Practise my swing, sez you? Sharpen the head of my pike, more like.

  • bohereen

    Looks like old people’s homes are the new raison d’etre for the HRC. Two weeks of an open phone line for people to whistle-blow care homes? Nolan on speed?

  • The Commission is a complete scam, here is a link to what were the Commissions terms and conditions demanding that applicants forfeit their right to free speech in order to have other rights defended (see condition 6)

    I made an FoI request, wherein, some 500 people had approached the NIHRC over a one year period. Only twelve were offered assitance, seven of those where given the ultimatum to forfiet their Article 10 human rights or not receive assistance. FoI can be downloaded here;

    It can also be seen (FoI doc) that people with no connection to the NIHRC(guests) or had their human rights violated have been provided assistance in travel and accommodation expenses. Not one abuse case was assisted with travel or accommodation expenses. I had to travel from Cork to Belfast and spend at least one night in accommodation because I had to attend court over my case.

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

    Correction: Greatest achievement in ten years of existence!!