Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

House of Lords written question – answered on 17th October 2011.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird UUP

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord De Mauley on 3 October (WA 132), whether they consulted the Government of the Republic of Ireland over the appointment of Professor Michael O'Flaherty, the new chairman of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), and his continuing role as a nominated representative of that Government to the United Nations Human Rights Committee; and whether his appointment to the NIHRC will take precedence in the event of any conflict of interest.

Photo of Lord Shutt of Greetland Lord Shutt of Greetland Lords Spokesperson (Northern Ireland Office), Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

There was no such consultation about the appointment, which was made in accordance with OCPA guidance. Professor O'Flaherty, though originally nominated to the UNHRC by the Irish Government, serves on it in an independent capacity.

The Chief Commissioner's terms of appointment are clear that should a particular matter give rise to, or risk giving rise to, a conflict of interest he must inform the NIHRC Director and the Northern Ireland Office as soon as possible and withdraw from discussions or consideration of the matter.

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