THE Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission held a series of meetings in Newtownabbey on Friday, April 19 as part of its ongoing community visits across Northern Ireland.
The Commission met with Mayor Victor Robinson and representatives of Newtownabbey Borough Council at Mossley Mill to discuss matters affecting the borough and the role of local elected representatives in promoting and protecting the rights of residents.
In the afternoon, Commissioners met with staff at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Rathcoole and discussed issues including the impact of welfare reforms, the right to an adequate standard of living and protecting those who are vulnerable from falling into destitution. This was followed by a meeting with members of Newtownabbey Senior Citizens’ Forum and the PSNI.
CAB District Manager, Pat Hutchinson MBE said the meeting at the Dunanney Centre, which lasted almost two hours, had gone “very well”.
During a wide ranging discussion, Chief Commissioner Professor Michael O’Flaherty explained their recent human rights work, particularly in relation to representations made to the Stormont Executive on the ongoing welfare reform debates. And Director David Russell outlined further ongoing work being carried out by the Commission, specifically in relation to issues of austerity and destitution.
“Professor O’Flaherty indicated that the meeting had reaffirmed the great importance of sustained stakeholder engagement. He welcomed the invaluable information provided by CAB staff and also commended Newtownabbey CAB for its human rights focused and client-centred work,” Pat Hutchinson commented.
“We were delighted to be in Newtownabbey; the purpose of the visit was to hear first-hand what human rights issues are facing local groups and citizens.
“We provided legal advice clinics and human rights training throughout the day so that we could bring the Commission’s services to the area,” Professor O’Flaherty explained.