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Ex-UUP MLA and a former electoral officer among new Human Rights Commissioners

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Appointment: John McCallister

Appointment: John McCallister

Appointment: John McCallister

A former MLA and an ex-chief electoral officer are among six new Human Rights Commissioners.

The appointments by the Secretary of State were announced yesterday.

Ulster Unionist turned independent MLA John McCallister and ex-electoral chief Graham Shields have been named.

Other new appointees are the previous director of Carers Northern Ireland Helen Ferguson, lawyer Helena Macormac, ex-head of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate Paul Mageean and Edmond Rooney, a retired senior civil servant.

The appointments are all part-time positions. They will work alongside the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's chief commissioner, Les Allamby.

Some of the first issues they will grapple with include abortion laws in Northern Ireland and a probe into Traveller accommodation.

Mr Allamby said that he was delighted to welcome the new faces.

"The new commissioners join us at a crucial period. The protection and promotion of human rights is vital in these uncertain political times," he said.

"In October we will be challenging Northern Ireland's termination of pregnancy laws at the Supreme Court.

"We will also release our investigation findings into Traveller accommodation in the coming months.

"The Commission works across many sectors and areas to promote and embed a culture of human rights."

Belfast Telegraph