Northern Ireland

Eight new members of Human Rights Commission appointed

Monica McWilliams
Image caption The outgoing Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Monica McWilliams.

A victims campaigner who lost his wife and father-in-law in an IRA bombing has been appointed as one of eight new members of the Human Rights Commission.

Alan McBride's family members were killed in the 1993 IRA bombing on a fish shop on Belfast's Shankill Road.

The current chief human rights commissioner, Monica McWilliams, will be replaced by Professor Michael O'Flaherty.

The new commission will take up their posts in September.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) was created by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, as part of the Belfast Agreement.

It is an independent body which promotes awareness of the importance of human rights in Northern Ireland and keeps the adequacy and effectiveness of law and practice under review.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson announced the appointments on Monday.

The new commissioners are; Grainia Long, Christine Collins, John Corey, Milton Kerr, Alan McBride, Marion Reynolds and Paul Yam.

'Extremely grateful'

Professor O'Flaherty is currently co-director of Nottingham University's Human Rights Law centre.

Mr Paterson said: "Twelve years after its establishment, the commission continues to face a range of challenges that are changing as Northern Ireland society changes.

"I am confident that the new chief commissioner and commissioners will help meet these challenges in a way that commands support across the community."

He said he was "extremely grateful" to the outgoing commissioners "for their commitment over the last six years".

The outgoing chief commissioner, Professor McWilliams, said: "I am delighted on behalf of the commission to welcome these appointments.

"My fellow commissioners and I will leave office in August knowing that Professor O'Flaherty and his new team provide a strong basis from which the commission will continue to carry out its work promoting and protecting the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland."

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