Six new members of rights body proposed previously

 

The six additional members named for appointment to the new Human Rights Commission were all recommended by the selection committee. This committee was set up by the Government to advise it on appointments to the commission.

The committee's recommendations were largely ignored by the Government when it named eight members to the commission recently, leading to protests from many human rights groups. The Government decided this week to expand the membership from eight to 14. The six people asked by the Government this week to join the commission are Mr Michael Farrell, Mr Martin Collins, Dr Gerard Quinn, Ms Clodagh McRory, Ms Nuala Kelly and Dr Katherine Zappone.

Mr Farrell is a solicitor who specialises in cases with a human rights dimension, and is a former co-chairman of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

Mr Collins is a Traveller, a graduate of NUI Maynooth, a founder member of Dublin Travellers' Education and Development Group and a campaigner against racism.

Dr Quinn has just been appointed professor of law in NUI Galway. He has worked with the Department of Equality and Law Reform and with the European Commission in Brussels, where he specialised in disability issues.

Ms McRory is a barrister in Northern Ireland and a member of the commission on prisoner releases set up following the Belfast Agreement.

Ms Kelly is the co-ordinator of the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas and a member of the consultative forum for the EU Peace and Reconciliation programme.

Dr Zappone is one of the founders of the Tallaght-based Shanty Educational Project for women and former chief executive of the National Women's Council.

It is understood that those asked to serve are still considering their responses.

The selection committee presented the Government with 16 names - eight of them on a first list of unanimous priority recommendations, and another eight on a second list.

The Government appointed only one from the first list to the commission - Prof Fionnuala Ni Aolain, Professor of Law in the University of Ulster.

It appointed three from the second list of eight - Ms Suzanne Egan, a law lecturer from UCD, Ms Jane Liddy, a barrister who worked with the European Commission on Human Rights, and Mr Robert Daly, a mental health specialist from Cork.

Five of the extra six people named for appointment to the commission this week were on the selection committee's unanimous priority recommendation list, and the sixth - Dr Zappone - was on the committee's second list of names.

Responding to the latest move, Mr Donncha O'Connell of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said: "A watertight appointment process should now be put on a statutory footing to minimise the scope for political intervention in future commissions."