* To Ambassadors of Monica's stature, Post-dated Resignations can mean only one thing: check the diary, hmmm... let's see anything vaguely human-rightish, sunny climes, UK taxpayer paying...Southern California, "From Peace Talks to Gender". Sorted. Lucky old San Diego.
On the principle that when there is a "contested" opinion between a Billionaire Irish-American businessman and a Belfast Unionist penurious blogger there can be only one winner, I've laid off the Atlantic Philanthropies until now; this from "Framer" at Slugger is, however, worth a read:Monica McWilliams was on BBC Radio Ulster this morning in an extended and typically easy interview.Quite. And this is what pisses me off most of all about Maginness's contribution. McWilliams' reign at the NIHRC has damaged the promotion of human rights in Northern Ireland- that fact may not suit certain political agendas, it is nevertheless the truth.Human rights are non-political, non-partisan, universal- by refusing to tackle the "culturally" "inconvenient" rights in NI (eg women's right to choose) and by refusing to comment meaningfully on those cases which impacted on existing, accepted rights (the numerous child abuse cases) McWilliams has revealed herself incapable of carrying out the responsibilities of the post she was appointed to.
She said the Atlantic money refusal involved an agenda which, disingenuously, she claimed not to understand. Otherwise her only point was wonderment as to whether the Lib Dems would support the NIO’s decisions on Atlantic and the Bill of Rights.
Of course, no mention was made by the BBC interviewer of Daphne Trimble or Jonathan Bell disputing NIHRC taking Atlantic money.
The NIO told Ms McWilliams on 6 July, “Ministers are keen that the independence of the Commission should be protected. They take the view that external funding could risk compromising this independence. They further believe that the Commission’s core legislative functions should be preserved rather than risk being overshadowed by projects which fall outside the scope of what the Commission is funded for via its grant-in-aid.
As a result of this…Ministers have decided not to grant permission for the £30k of external funding to be received from Atlantic Philanthropies. This decision reflects their concern that such a grant would in turn result in a much larger sum of external funding being offered, which could risk compromising the Commission’s independence and impartiality if it were to be accepted.”
Remember NIHRC had got £100,000 from Atlantic “to fund work to secure implementation of the Commission’s advice to government on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland” [Monica’s words] i.e. to lobby at Westminster and issue publicity material on its advice to the Westminster government.
So a private (and foreign) body (Atlantic) was funding a statutory body to lobby the Government to implement the advice it was asked to submit. Untenable behaviour in any system.
NIHRC’s role was to provide advice not ensure it would be implemented. In the event the Labour government rejected it wholesale.
And she has now left with the Commission unbalanced and leaderless as the Conservatives see off the remnants of her Bill advice
Northern Irish Conservative claims credit (on behalf of the wider party of course) for the abdication of Monica:
For reference, the forthcoming “Breakthrough NI” report will be clear about many ideas for tackling poverty in Northern Ireland – handing lots of public money to lawyers to fight theoretical “human rights” cases does not figure among them!Tackling poverty is not 100% synonymous with tackling the problem of human rights denial. I've just finished Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran"- the majority of the women in her reading circle were certainly middle-class but as women in modern Iran their human rights were denied in many other different ways. Equality of opportunity is not solely dependent on equality of income. But there is much work in this area taking place presently in the Conservative Party under the auspices of people like Iain Duncan Smith that deserves careful consideration, so until I've read "Breakthrough NI" I'll give Parsley the benefit of the doubton this one.
A thought, just kind of, crossed my mind. Perhaps Prof McWilliams had realised that she'd lost the confidence and support of her staff (that motivation point I made before). Bearing in mind, perhaps, obviously theoretically, the amount the NIHRC may have spent during each year of her tenure on contentious employment issues, including legal advice and representation at tribunals or other external agencies, settlements, consultancy, mediation, investigation and adjudication of internal complaints and grievances, and job evaluations... she's finally reckoned, perhaps, she was, maybe, a square peg in a round hole???