Northern Ireland

NI human rights chief executive to stand down

NI Human Rights

The chief executive of Northern Ireland's Human Rights Commission is to stand down.

Peter O'Neill told staff of his decision on Monday.

Chief Commissioner Monica McWilliams said Mr O'Neill was leaving in a month's time, after a reorganisation of management structures.

This will see the chief executive's post go. The reorganisation at the NI commission follows a highly critical internal review of operations.

Mr O'Neill's decision comes as the commission grapples with 25% cuts and the fall-out from an independent consultant's report reviewing internal management structures.

Sources said the review was initiated several months ago to examine how the commission could improve its efficiency and effectiveness.

It's understood the report carried a table that indicated that some commissioners and staff lacked confidence in senior management.

The subsequent consultant's report made a number of recommendations. There are continuing discussions taking place about the restructuring of the organisation.

Mr O'Neill has been chief executive since 2007. Mrs McWilliams said Mr O'Neill's departure was mutually agreed and that relations between staff and the commissioners are good.

In August, Mrs McWilliams said she, herself, would be stepping down a year earlier than expected in 2011.

She said her decision was intended to give the commission's new board a chance to settle in. She said it was not directly related to the Northern Ireland Office's decision to impose funding cuts of 25%.

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