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Broadcaster Jon Snow 'genuinely optimistic' as he launches new human rights report in Belfast

By Amanda Ferguson

Snow was delayed by fog on Monday - Jon Snow, that is.

The respected veteran journalist arrived a little later than expected for the launch of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's annual report at Stormont yesterday because of the weather.

"Argh! Fog banks at Belfast City Airport divert us to Aldergrove," he wrote on Twitter. "Gotta give a speech 10.00am... BA won't let us off... they will fly us to City."

Following perhaps the shortest flight of his life, the Channel 4 News broadcaster eventually made it to Parliament Buildings.

During his speech entitled, Human Rights, The Media has only just begun to understand. From El Salvador to Sri Lanka, via Northern Ireland and Iraq, Snow said he was proud to wield such a "remarkable document".

"It is yet another benchmark in the journey to human rights for all in Northern Ireland," he said.

Snow told those in attendance, including deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, much of the report provides "genuine optimism for the future" and paid tribute to the NIHRC.

"The commission's work provides robust cement to the work of political and civil society in bringing about the great changes that have occurred in Northern Ireland," he added.

"As a journalist who spent considerable time reporting the Troubles in the '70s and '80s, to read this report of the Human Rights Commission is both uplifting and reassuring.

"There is a transparency about both the achievements and the challenges of these present times. For an institution that has been in existence for less than two decades I pay tribute to the extraordinary resilience, and continuing work, of the commission and its staff."

On working as a journalist during the conflict Snow said reporters from Britain "were completely startled by what we found".

"I loved working here," he added. "But never in those days understood how that UN declaration of Human Rights might play a critical and helping hand in resolving and I think I wasn't alone."

While the speed of political progress can be frustrating, Snow had positive comments to make on the pace of change.

"As an outsider, I genuinely am inspired to find how much work has been done by so many different trunks and while much of it may be unresolved, it's in process," he said.

NIRHC identifies areas it says require immediate attention from the British and Stormont governments, including legacy inquries, conflict-related deaths, the remand of children, corporal punishment, compensation for a miscarriage of justice and an anti-poverty strategy. There was laughter at the end of the event when Snow made an unintentionally funny comment that chimed with a Belfast audience.

"May more orange turn to green," he said. The remark was linked to NIRHC's traffic light colour coding in the report where red indicates areas that need immediate attention, amber, those that require action and green acknowledges areas where progress has been made.

To view the NIHRC report visit

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