“£110,000 of additional funding from Atlantic Philanthropies” for NIHRC campaign on BoR

While looking for the written answers on the NIO poll mentioned here, I found this intriguing answer from Baroness Royall of Blaisdon to a question put by Lord Laird

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) met travel, subsistence and accommodation costs for Mr Sidoti in his capacity as former chair of the Bill of Rights Forum to attend various roundtable discussions and workshops in relation to work on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. The commission met the costs using external funding.

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) was consulted on the proposals to access external funding. This was approved by the Secretary of State, which included £17,000 for “roundtable discussions, including venue hire, flights and accommodation for participants from outside Northern Ireland”. Full details of the proposals are available in the Library of the House.

And, after a bit of searching in the online Library, I uncovered the relevant letters [zip file]. And the full extent of the external funding from Atlantic Philanthropies (£110,000) for the NIHRC’s latest programme of work on the, now, suspended NI Bill of Rights. From the 11 June 2009 NIO letter

I can also confirm that the Secretary of State has approved your request to access £110,000 of additional funding from Atlantic Philanthropies for a set of projects relating to work on a Bill of Rights. The Secretary of State considered that the proposed projects were consistent with the statutory functions of the Commission and that the receipt of such funding would be consistent with the conditions set out in the Commission’s management statement. However, as you have already discussed with [name redacted], it is our view that production of a draft Bill would be nugatory work – if a decision is taken to legislate on a Bill of Rights, any legislation would need to be drafted by Parliamentary Counsel – so we suggest that you submit an alternative project for our consideration, within the scope of the total grant.

The above extract comes from the 11 June 2009 reply by the NIO to a letter from the NI Human Rights Commission which set out the proposed programme of work to be funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.

Programme of work to be funded by Atlantic Philanthropies

10. The programme of work to be funded by AP is to enable the Commission to disseminate its advice to a wider audience and enhance the NIO consultation process. While consulting on a proposed Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland is the authority of the Secretary of State, the Commission wishes to assist and support that process by ensuring consultees are sufficiently informed of the advice we have provided so that they are able to engage in a meaningful deliberation.

11. The following activities / outputs are planned:

Summary document – the advice on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, which the Commission provided to the Secretary of State, is a technical legal document and may not be readily understood [by] many prospective consultees. Therefore, we plan to produce an accessible summary version of the advice, directed toward assisting the broad constituency of government and non–government bodies, outside of the human rights sector, who may wish to respond to the consultation.

Newspaper supplement – in order to raise wider public understanding of the Commission’s advice provided to the Secretary of State, we plan to produce a supplement for insertion in the three daily Northern Ireland–wide newspapers (Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, News Letter) to further assist the consultation process. This supplement will provide a resume of the Commission’s advice, rather than summarise any proposals made by government.

‘Easy Read’ version – in order to make the Commission’s advice even more accessible, we plan to produce an ‘easy-read’ version, which will be used as an explanatory facilitation tool and disseminated to those organisations who work with people with learning disabilities.

Dissemination at Westminster – with the legislative passage of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland being through the Houses of Parliament, it will be important to ensure that the Commission’s advice is fully understood at Westminster. We plan to undertake this part of the dissemination of the Commission’s advice through face–to–face contacts by Commissioners and staff with MPs, Lords and Civil Servants in Westminster, which will incur significant travel and subsistence.

Facilitating political engagement – given the constraints on Parliamentary time, we plan to provide opportunities for wider discussion between those responsible for the progression of a Bill of Rights through a series of round tables separately engaging local political party representatives; Westminster MPs and Lords; and officials from relevant devolved and central government departments, to help ensure that the Commission’s advice is fully understood and debated. We also plan to facilitate a least one similar round table for non–governmental organisations.

Draft legislation – the Commission’s advice to the Secretary of State on the Bill of Rights is not draft legislation. Rather, it is a series of recommendations specific enough to provide clear direction to government on the possible content. To further progress the discussion, and assist government in its consultation and subsequent deliberations, the Commission proposes to engage a parliamentary legislative draftsperson, on a consultancy basis, to produce an example of how, in the Commission’s view, its advice might be translated into statute.

Ensuring the currency of the Commission’s advice – to ensure that the Commission remains fully informed of any legislative changes, domestic or international jurisprudence that could affect the content of its advice, it would be of particular benefit to engage an independent legal adviser for regular updates over the next 12 months as the consultative and legislative processes are progressed by government.

Evaluation – in line with AP’s contractual requirements, the Commission will need to evaluate outcomes of the above activities and outputs. This will include audited accounts.

And the funding requirements of that programme of work

12. The Commission’s funding requirements to undertake the programme of work set out are above are estimated as follows:

Summary document, including production costs and legal proofing [5,000 copies] £17,000
Newspaper inserts, 8 pages x 3 newspapers, plus design and print [195,000 copies] £24,000
Easy Read version, includes commissioning costs and design/print [1,000 copies] £7,000
Westminster engagement £22,000
Legislative draft of Bill, including consultancy costs for parliamentary draftsperson [15 days] £9,000
Roundtable discussions, including venue hire, flights and accommodation for participants from outside Northern Ireland [3 meetings] £17,000
Legislative and jurisprudence update, including consultant legal adviser [10 days] £6,000
Evaluation, including audited accounts £8,000

Total £110,000

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  • Drumlins Rock

    I would like take this oportunity to thank Mr. Feeny for the lovely meal I had a few weeks ago, and i’m sure he will be glad to know that his money has not been entirely wasted on this set of dud proposals from Monica. Also im sure various printers, newspapers, restaurants, lawyers etc. would also like to express their appreciation.
    Much as we appreciated these contributions, can we politely request that you resist from further interference in our country and allow our democratically elected representatives to make decisions without the undue influence of your millions.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    This is only the tip of the iceberg. MILLIONS of Feeney’s dollars have gone to further an anti-state political agenda. The chief programme officer for NI of Atlantic Philanthropies, Martin O’Brien, is the former head of the Committee for the Adminstration of Justice. While at CAJ this man set up the “Human Rights Trust,” as a funding mechanism for grants and donations. Then he went to head up….A P’s NI programmes. If you go on A P’s website and look under NI and grants and click on “Human Rights Trust” you are automatically directed, not to Human Rights Trust as a specific entity, but to……CAJ’s website. Talk about conflicts of interest! The small NI political space has been flooded by SF supporter Chuck Feeney’s millions. A political party would not be allowed to do this because they are limited under the law by strict spending limits, especially during elections. But A P can do what it likes. Feeney funded SF’s offices in the US for at least two years. The other millions have gone to “restorative justice” etc. Feeney was part of the group of SF supporters back in 1994/1995 which pushed for Gerry Adams to get his first US visa. Chuck Feeney has done much good with hundreds of millions of pounds for universities and other worthy causes but that doesn’t excuse the deliberate campaign to support an anti-state agenda with massive injections of millions of pounds. If Feeney was funding the other side of the Bill of Rights campaign equally then there would be balance. He has of course done nothing of the sort. It is high time this foreign interference in NI’s political space was condemned. It is outrageous that the NI Human Rights Commission itself, led by Monica McWilliams, was pilloried for carrying on its political agenda by using Chuck Feeney’s money to get around NIHRC’s own budget limits. This is politics-by-other-means i.e. throwing money to influence people to support your agenda.
    It is a pity that CAJ and AP have little or no interest in innocent victims of the troubles –i.e. men and women and children who had no connection whatsoever to the use of force — to achieve political objectives which could have been achieved at any time by the democratic means available. Yes, A P gave some funds to those bodies but they were tiny in comparison to the main part of the agenda. For shame!
    Look at the A P website information:

    2009 onwards:

    http://atlanticphilanthropies.org/grantees/grants/17449_human_rights_trust

    Note too, A P itself decides on what and who it grants; orgs aren’t permitted to apply to them; so the political agenda of A P is very clear since they are the organization which decides which initiative they want to fund

    http://atlanticphilanthropies.org/grantees/grants/17450_participation_and_the_practice_of_rights_project

    AND in 2008: Community Restorative Justice Ireland Mainstreaming Community Restorative Justice Northern Ireland £130,000 2008

    Community Restorative Justice Ireland Mainstreaming Support for Community-Based Restorative Justice Northern Ireland £201,246 2008

    Stratagem (NI) Ltd. Advocacy and Lobbying Support Programme Northern Ireland £75,000 2008

    The Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation Budget Analysis – Rights in NI Northern Ireland £243,294 2008

    AND in 2007:

    Grantee Projects Region Served Amount Awarded Year Awarded
    Human Rights Trust Planning Grant for Establishment of Public Interest Litigation Northern Ireland £32,000 2007

    Human Rights Trust Strategic Litigation Project Northern Ireland £1,882,200 2007 (!!!)

    AND in 2006:
    Grantee Projects Region Served Amount Awarded Year Awarded

    Human Rights Trust Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium Northern Ireland £673,000 2006

    AND look at the size of this grant in 2005:
    Disability Action Strategy for Achieving Human Rights Northern Ireland £1,540,000 2005

    These are just a sample of grants made

  • alan56

    Mr Feeney can spend his money any way he wants. Bit more transparency though would be good

  • PACE Parent

    AT are much more transparent than in the past but can you find the hidden umbrella in the expense claim?. That’s why you see no record of their contribution to funding attacks on the Northern Ireland education system. Grammar schools using academic selection pilloried and undermined through private publications issued via QUB academics to achieve the UNESCO goals. Bit of sniffing around Pete and you’ll find the key players. Their finger prints are all over the education agenda too.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Alan 56: “Mr. Feeney can spend his money any way he wants.” So, a foreign citizen, with multi-millions at his disposal, flooding the narrow Northern Irish political space with a specific anti-state agenda is OK with you ? So it would be OK would it if another money-bags flooded the small NI polity with millions in favour of “abstention” only sex education, creationist alternatives to the theory of evolution, funding of many “Christian” schools etc. ? What we are talking about here is interference in Northern Ireland politics and policy by individuals with an agenda who is a distinct minority within our elected representation. It uses money, where it can’t use political representation it does not have. It is subverting the ballot box. And that’s not a problem for you ? The new charities body in NI which is in the process of being created should have a specific provision governing the contributions of non-UK or non-Irish funding. Not to stop it neccessarily but to place some conditions of due diligence on it. Saying Feeney can spend his money where he wants is quite irresponsible and no doubt music to the ears of Feeney and organizations like CAJ. And are you comofortable with a statutory body like the NI Human Rights Commission going outside its own budget to find major funding for the political agenda of its chairperson ? How about those who don’t have access to these massive funds and who don’t have the access to Feeney’s limitless pots of cash ? Really. It’s a mockery of democratic practice. That’s my point. Back to you.

  • wild turkey

    Theoretical question, strictly a theoretical question.

    how would NIHRC, Monica and the cast of various hangers on react if Lord Ashcroft provided funds of, say £100k to £500k, to take to task and totally trash the current NI rights/entitlement agenda?

    answers on a postcard

    Drumlin Rocks, hope you enjoyed your lunch. did they serve fudge for dessert?

  • granni trixie

    PACE:”AT are much more transparent than in the past”: their policy is till that their staff proactively identify grantees ie no one may apply to them.

    So what makes you think they are “more transparent”?

  • brendan

    The NIHRC movement, of which the AP trust fund is a massive player is a total con job on the NI public. It is a disgrace waiting to be revealed.

    Uncle Quentin did ok though!

  • PACE Parent

    Granni Trixie,
    You suggest that Atlantic Philanthropies approach is “their policy is (s)till (sic) that their staff proactively identify grantees ie no one may apply to them.”
    Previously their grantees were not identified and no database existed for scrutiny but AP must have known who to contact and whom they should award money to. http://atlanticphilanthropies.org/grantees/grants
    The publication of Testing the Test by John Gardner and Pamela Cowan at QUB for example took place in 2000. Any chance they were Feeney friends?

  • PACE Parent

    For those interested in Chuck Feeney’s largesse perhaps a quick look at how large of a slice of the money pie is given towards favoured projects in Northern Ireland would help.
    http://atlanticphilanthropies.org/grantees/statistics/historical_statistics
    Take a look at the grants awarded in N.I. and see how quickly the pattern of common names and relationships jumps off the screen.
    There’s nothing for nothing.

  • Moochin Photoman

    If Mr Feeney has so much money to throw around i’d suggest that it would be better spent as Carnegie did, setting up libraries as far more good would come from it than this Bill of rights malarky

  • Framer

    Anyone notice that British-Irish Rights Watch which seems to be a one-woman operation in London netted a cool million pounds from Atlantic over recent years?

    That is some grant aid. I wonder what it was spent on and why it is so favoured. Not that alternate organisations can seek funding since you have to await the call from the arbiter, the one man who decides.

    It seems like the old way of deciding on Tory leaders. A winner just emerges. Accountability it ain’t.

  • granni trixie

    It seems to me that employees of AA know themselves how the AA system of awarding grants is perceived as unfair. I notice that any group/individual who gets a grant sounds a bit sheepish rather than proud of the award,sometimes even remarking that they do not know why them and not their competitors.

    I think that this applies all the more to grantees in universities, who after all are advantaged in their career over their colleguesb by bringing in what are often v large sums to their department. I also agree that you can immediately see the social networks that AA employees have tapped into, in the list of grantees on their internet site.

    I heard that a number of years ago AA in NI attempted to have the sysem of awarding grants changed but their USA HQ would not have it at all. I think this illustrates that often the culture of a HQ does not fit the local situation.

    As well as the above I am uneasy about AA monies because they are derived from selling smokes and alcohol. But if a cause with which I were associated were to be ‘one of the chosen ones’ I would pragmatically accept the dosh and play the AA system. But AA should have learnt by now that money doesn’t buy respect.

  • granni trixie

    PS Just thought of an exquisite moral problem. What if Slugger was identified as one of the AA chosen ones?.

    So needy of funds!
    So very worthy!

    Could we be bought off? Answers on a postcard please…

  • PACE Parent

    granni trixie
    Why not stick with a close scrutiny of those who have been adopted as chosen ones and evaluate what they have done with Chuck’s money?

  • granni trixie

    PACE:Given the extent of the problem, where would you begin (besides doesnt AA pay out sillions to the usual suspects to evaluate each other?)

    Anyway, this is my hobby,not my employment and I dont take anything said on Slugger too seriously,including myself.

  • PACE Parent

    Of course granni trixie you could start with your own “usual suspects”. Help us out by listing them.

  • granni trixie

    PACE: As a rule, I am careful of mentioning individuals on this site as you seem to be yourself in your posts.

    I am also conscious that the recipients of AAs largesse is the least of the problem we are discussing ie the undue ‘political’ influence of a philanthropy body,and the closed shop it operates doling out grants.