Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monica decides to cash in the airmiles?

In news that will bring tears to the eyes of the worldwide airline industry and local sunbed operators, the "BBC has learnt" (ie been fed the information by an "interested" source) the head of Northern Ireland's Human Rights Commission, Monica McWilliams is to step down a year early.

Which means another 12 months of taxpayer-funded roaming Ambassadorship* for this blog's favourite Quango Oligarch: who knows, she might make that Cancun "fact-finding" trip yet;).

More seriously, even in her post-dated leaving, questions need to be asked:
Monica McWilliams said her decision to leave next August rather than in 2012 was intended to give its new board a chance to settle in.
By leaving earlier, she would be giving the new board a "chance to settle in"? That is surely a contradiction in logic? Whatever, it's obviously not the real reason:
She said it was not directly related to the Northern Ireland Office's decision to impose funding cuts of 25%.
Not "directly" related? I suspect the truth is that it would have put Monica on a very stick wicket internally within the NIHRC indeed, continuing to pull in 70k plus expenses when overall funding of the NIHRC was reduced by 25%.
She accused the government of trying to stymie the commission by blocking £30,000 funding from a US charity.

Ms McWilliams said she did not accept the NIO's claim that the Atlantic Philanthropies money was blocked because it was outside the organisation's core business.
So, the British government's funding being cut by several hundred thousand pounds wasn't a "direct" reason, whereas this considerably less of Uncle Chuck's cash being blocked appears to have most definitely raised Monica's dander? Why? Chuck and Monica are on the same wavelength with regards what "needs" to be done re the "Bill of Rights" and other related Human Rights matters; HMG are not similarly prepared to indulge with our money limitlessly the targets and aims of a politically partisan and (much more importantly) downright incompetent quangocrat:
"This commission was long fought for, it now has strong and effective powers," she said.
Really? And what exactly have you achieved with those "strong and effective" powers? In concrete, measureable, terms what improvement in human rights has been achieved during your reign? A shambles of a completely "unfit for purpose" "Bill of Rights", which has damaged not improved the situation, that's the legacy you're dumping on your successor.

And lo and behold, just after the BBC has "learnt" of the abdication of Monica, we already have an almost simultaneous supporting comment from SDLP justice spokesman, Alban Maginness... what fortuitous timing.
"It was always under-resourced; it has a tiny budget of £1.7m, which I think translates as about 70 pence per person in Northern Ireland to defend human rights.

"We've come out of a long conflict; the commission was in the (Good Friday) Agreement and the St Andrew's Agreement, and therefore we believe it needs to be protected."
There is a standard truism in NGO-land: achievement of core objectives is *not* directly proportional to increase in income received by any NGO- anyone with the slightest knowledge of how quangos in the UK and in Northern Ireland in particuliar know that is also undoubtedly a fact in that sphere. Human rights aren't principally "defended" by money; they are defended by motivated activists being able to influence those who have the power to make postive change. On both the "motivation" and "influence" questions, Ms McWilliams has been a dismal failure.

On the wider question of the NIHRC, it only needs to be "protected" in its present form if it is delivering on the targets it was set up to achieve... well, is it?

Not only a leadership change but a spot of creative destruction as opposed to "protection" may be in the longterm interests of the NIHRC and by extension, human rights in Northern Ireland.

No comments: