Appointment of New Human Rights Commissioners

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The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission today welcomes the announcement of six new Commissioners by the Secretary of State Rt. Hon James Brokenshire MP. Helen Ferguson, Helena Macormac, Paul Mageean, Samuel John McCallister, Edmond Rooney and Graham Shields are part time appointments and will join the full time Chief Commissioner and staff in September 2017.

NIHRC Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby, said:

I am delighted on behalf of the Commission to welcome these appointments. The new Commissioners join us at a crucial period. The protection and promotion of human rights is vital in these uncertain political times.

In October we will be challenging Northern Ireland’s Termination of pregnancy laws at the Supreme Court. We will also release our investigation findings into Traveller accommodation in the coming months. The Commission works across many sectors and areas to promote and embed a culture of human rights including with the Business sector, the Civil Service and local people through our community engagement visits throughout Northern Ireland.

We look forward to working in September with the new Commissioners to carry forward our existing work and to setting new future priorities to protect and promote the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland.”


Further information:

For further information please contact Claire Martin: (028) 9024 3987 (office), 0771 7731873 (mobile).

Notes to editors

1. Read more about the new Commissioner appointments here.

2. Les Allamby was appointed Chief Commissioner in 2014. Read more about the Chief Commissioner here. The Chief Commissioner was appointed by the Secretary of State for a period of five years.

3. Read more about the work of the Commission in its latest Annual Report here. Read about the Commission’s annual statement here.

4. The current part time Commissioners finish on 31 August 2017 having completed two three year terms of office.

5. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.

6.Biography of Appointees

Helen Ferguson was a Director, Carers Northern Ireland, from 1994-2015. She has over 30 years’ experience of working in the community and voluntary sector. She is currently a member of the Equality Commission.

Helena Macormac is a lawyer currently employed as Policy Director for National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Paul Mageean is currently the Director of Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queens University and a Parole Commissioner. He is a former Head of Criminal Justice Inspectorate.

Samuel John McCallister is in the farming industry and formerly served as a UUP MLA from 2007 to 2013.

Edmond Rooney is a retired Senior Civil Servant who was Deputy Secretary in OFMDFM (now The Executive Office) and a former Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency

Graham Shields is the former Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland and a retired senior police officer.

30 Aug 2017