Human Rights chief’s outrage at bomb attack

Newly appointed NI Human Rights Chief Commissioner Michael O'Flaherty pictured with lmembers of PESP and Commissioners John Corry and Miton Kerr during a visit to Derry this week.  (1410JB10)
Newly appointed NI Human Rights Chief Commissioner Michael O'Flaherty pictured with lmembers of PESP and Commissioners John Corry and Miton Kerr during a visit to Derry this week. (1410JB10)
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The Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has voiced his outrage at the bomb attack on Derry’s City of Culture office just hours after he met Derry’s Culture Company chiefs.

Professor Michael O’ Flaherty unreservedly condemned the attack which damaged the Northern Counties culture headquarters and coincided with his visit to the city to meet community groups and city officials including Culture Company bosses.

Professor O’Flaherty told the ‘Journal’: “Assaults like this on the life of the City are outrageous abuses of the human rights of its people. They put at risk the most basic right of all- the right to life. They re traumatise victims of the decades of the Troubles. They threaten to undermine the human right of cultural expression.”

During his visit to Derry, Professor O’ Flaherty also met with a wide range of community groups and senior Derry police officer. His visit to Derry was organised by the Participation Engagement and Skills Project (PESP) which hosted an informal reception in the Waterside’s Workhouse Museum on Wednesday. He later crossed the Foyle via the iconic Peace Bridge for a second meeting with local groups in the Tower Museum.

A spokesperson for PESP said the visit of Prof O’Flaherty - who was recently appointed to the post - presented “a wonderful opportunity for the local community, including individuals, community groups and representatives to meet the Chief Commissioner and speak with him directly about their human rights concerns and experiences”.

Prof O’Flaherty holds the Chair in Applied Human Rights and is Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham . Since 2004 he has been an elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and is currently a Vice-Chairperson.

He is also a member of the UN Expert Group on Human Rights Indicators. He established the UN human rights field missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994) and Sierra Leone (1998) and subsequently guided UN headquarters support to its human rights programmes across the Asia-Pacific region. He has served as Secretary of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and UN human rights advisor for implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

PESP, part of the NW Community Network and Walled City Community Partnership, is funded through the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme.