Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Another year of wasted human rights' opportunities" incorporating "Oligarch Update: Patricia, Monica and the next generation"

Before we get down to the main business, this, which I received by email last week, made me smile:
New York’s all-inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parade, St. Pat’s for All, recently announced Patricia Lewsley and Jim Cullen as its 2011 parade Grand Marshals, with Co-chairs Brendan Fay and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy making the announcement over breakfast at Agave restaurant in Chelsea, New York.

OK, seasoned observers of the NI Human Rights Oligarchy will recognise that first name instantly, but for the rest of you:
Lewsley, Commissioner for Children and Young People for Northern Ireland, is known for her tireless work on behalf of child protection and support programs.
Well, no, actually she isn’t.
She is best known for a cack-handed, completely incompetent and clueless attempt to legally repeal laws which allow parents to smack their children as a disciplinary measure; a cack-handed, completely incompetent and clueless attempt paid for 100%  by the UK taxpayer.
She is also well-known (for those with a genuine interest in the human rights of children anyway) for largely... what’s the diplomatic expression... "keeping her own counsel” when faced with the various church and Sinn Fein-related child abuse scandals which have erupted over the last couple of years.
She is finally pretty well-known for raking in from the UK taxpayer 75 grand a year basic salary . And that is about that on the “tireless work” front. Still, since it’s not us paying for her St Pat’s day jaunt (is it ???), then I suppose we shouldn’t begrudge her her big day out in New York.

Now, with the preliminaries over, to the latest news on the undisputed Queen of the HR Oligarchs opus:

Thursday 16 December 2010


The Minister of State, Hugo Swire MP made the following Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament today:

“I have today published responses to the previous Government’s consultation on ‘A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland: Next Steps’. The responses are available on the NIO website: http://www.nio.gov.uk

“A total of approximately 36,492 responses were received. There were 232 substantive responses and approximately 36,260 email and mail/freepost mailshots that were sent as part of campaigns by various groups.
A closer examination of those responses reveals a “divergence in opinion”:
"There was considerable support from human rights and community groups for a wide-ranging Bill of Rights along the lines of that recommended by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. They expressed concern that the proposals in the consultation document fell well short of this.
It is almost entirely down to those “wide-ranging” demands of The Human Rights Industry and (usually self-annointed) “community” groups that we still don’t have legislation dealing with the specific human-rights concerns of Northern Ireland:
“The consultation also demonstrated opposition to a wide-ranging Bill of Rights and support instead for a more limited set of rights that reflected the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland. "
Several of the individuals providing responses to that effect are friends of this blog and needless to say, the vision they have of any Bill of Rights is much closer to the one proposed in the Belfast Agreement than that all-singing, all-dancing version proposed by the maximalists in the first group. Don’t believe me? Well, here you go:
4. The new Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (see paragraph 5below) will be invited to consult and to advise on the scope for defining,in Westminster legislation, rights supplementary to those in the European Convention on Human Rights, to reflect the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, drawing as appropriate on international instruments and experience. These additional rights to reflect the principles of mutual respect for the identity and ethos of both communities and parity of esteem, and - taken together with the ECHR - to constitute a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.
My emphasis.
So, where to now?
“The Government will continue to consider how best to address this issue, but continues to urge all sides to work together to help build consensus on the best way to proceed.”
In other words, “ball’s in your court”. Monica has come out against the “consensus principle”, too many on the other side are quite prepared to keep twiddling their thumbs, so stalemate basically.

Will her departure push matters forward in a more realistic direction? Depends on who her replacement is obviously but I’m not at all optimistic I must admit.

Oh well, not to worry, as this little snippet reveals, Prof McWilliams is already putting her mind towards propogating the next generation of Monica Clones:
Katrina Killen, a student on the LLM in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice programme at the Jordanstown campus, has been awarded the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission Prize for the best dissertation submitted in 2010. Entitled‘Transitional Justice and the Marginalisation of Socioeconomic Issues’, Katrina’s dissertation considers whether transitional justice is an effective mechanism for addressing socioeconomic rights abuses. She said: “In this dissertation it was noted that a dichotomy exists between civil and political rights and socioeconomic issues whereby the latter are often marginalised within the field of transitional justice. This occlusion of socioeconomic issues has the potential to lead to the reoccurrence of violence. It is now apparent that socioeconomic rights violations must be addressed in some form or another otherwise they will become lost in obscurity.”
Oh gawd. Again my emphasis.


thedissenter said...

They get everywhere. A Wimmins Coalition supporter is on the Parades Commission. It would be interesting to know how many of that party now sit on quangos and work out the proportion vis-a-vis any other sectional group in NI. I don't think we would be surprised.

Chekov said...

I was going to share my thoughts on the little bit about Katrina Killen there. But it really was going to be a spittle flecked rant which ending in an illiberal comment about Gulags. So I'll not bother, other than do say, I don't like that type of thing.

O'Neill said...

"It would be interesting to know how many of that party now sit on quangos and work out the proportion vis-a-vis any other sectional group in NI."

Patricia though was SDLP wasn't she? Although I agree the officially sanctioned HR sector in NI is in the hands/control of a small number of self-defined professionals who bring a whole new meaning to the expression "group-think".

Nelson McCausland a while ago mentioned quite a few did their apprenticeships together in far/left (eg the Irish Communist party)student organisations. Doing a kind of family tree on that might throw up some interesting connections.

O'Neill said...


I decided to give her thesis a read this afternoon, this sentence jumped out at me:

"However, disquiet regarding the marginalisation of socioeconomic issues has begun to emerge among both academics and transitional justice practitioners."

Again-pure,unadulterated, "groupthink" comes straight to mind.

Curiously enough, I think the NI cultural battle SF or DUP signalled a while ago may not between the Orange and Green but between this kind of nonsense and the more libertarian, individualist view on such topics as human rights being developed within the concept of the Big Society. We can't afford to lose it!

rutherford said...

"transitional justice practitioners"

As far as I'm aware the 'transition' has already been made.

Perhaps another round of decommissioning is now required.