Letter from the Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland to the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs
THE NORTHERN IRELAND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
I thought that I should write to you immediately
to clarify one point which arose during the meeting of the Northern
Ireland Affairs Committee this morning.
As you may recall, I had initially said that
appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission were
not part of my responsibility, but had then explained that that
was incorrect. It might be helpful if I set out in this letter
the Government's position.
Under the Northern Ireland Act 1998, appointments
to the Human Rights Commission fall to me. The Act requires me,
so far as practicable, to ensure that the Commissioners, as a
group, are representative of the community in Northern Ireland.
In placing advertisements for posts on the Commission widely,
and issuing a press release, we tried to ensure that applications
were received from as wide a selection of people as possible.
The sift criteria for interview were adopted to ensure that the
best candidates were interviewed. I then appointed a Chief Commissioner
and Commissioners, making a judgement about the group as a whole
being representative of the community in Northern Ireland. I am
satisfied that the statutory requirement has been met.
I am copying this letter to Jeffrey Donaldson,
who asked the original question.
19 May 1999