New human rights chief appointed
Published 18/07/2011 | 13:42
A human rights expert with strong links to the United Nations (UN) has been named as the new head of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
Professor Michael O'Flaherty, who succeeds the outgoing chief commissioner Monica McWilliams, will be joined by seven new commissioners including trade unionist John Corey and victims campaigner Alan McBride, whose wife and father-in-law were killed in the IRA's 1993 Shankill Road bombing.
The appointments were confirmed by Secretary of State Owen Paterson, who said the commission played an important role in meeting the challenges of Northern Ireland's changing society.
Prof O'Flaherty, who will take up his new post on September 19, is co-director of the human rights law centre at the University of Nottingham and a vice chair of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
The 52-year-old was elected to the UN Committee after being nominated by the Irish Government. He established the UN human rights field missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994 and Sierra Leone in 1998.
Mr Paterson said: "The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission plays an important role in protecting and promoting human rights in Northern Ireland.
"The new Chief Commissioner and seven new Commissioners bring with them skills, understanding and knowledge that will contribute greatly to the Commission's work."
Grania Long, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Northern Ireland, retired PSNI chief inspector Milton Kerr and Christine Collins, of the Huntington's Disease Association of Northern Ireland, are among the new commissioners.
Marion Reynolds, who was formerly deputy director social services at the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, and Paul Yam MBE, who has been a long standing advocate for the Chinese community, make up the new commissioner line-up.