IMC threatened with legal action over human rights breach

The Andersonstown News has learned that a range of community and voluntary groups are instructing solicitors to challenge the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) over alleged breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Papers in relation to the challenge are expected to be lodged by the end of next week on behalf of the broad-based Campaign Against Political Vetting.
The legal challenge will argue that aspects of the IMC's first report recommendations are outside of the body's remit.

"We have consulted with our solicitors and will be challenging these dangerous recommendations of the IMC. Not to do so would be a great injustice to the community and voluntary groups, who are at the coal face of the day-to-day problems that affect our communities," said spokesperson Stephen Corr.

"We will challenge our belief that the IMC recommendations in relation to the community and voluntary sector are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and that, in this instance, the IMC is clearly making recommendations outside its remit.

"Our meetings are open to anyone within the community sector and details of further meetings will be well circulated," he said.

Meanwhile the prominent community worker also hit back at comments made by IMC boss Richard Kerr during an interview in last Monday's Andersonstown News.

"One of our main concerns regarding the report initially was that it undermines the Good Friday Agreement, and here we have one of the IMC members saying that prior to taking up his position, he hadn't even read the GFA, and has – even at this point – not visited West Belfast.

"We are asking how can an individual make potentially make-or-break judgements on the state of affairs here, when he has absolutely no idea of the complexities of the situation and how we have arrived at this juncture.

"The most striking point is his attitude to his job. Richard Kerr gives the impression of being a hired sharpshooter, brought into position to report on issues with which he has no background or, indeed, long term interest.

"The campaign initiated against political vetting has been working steadily away behind the scenes since the publication of the first IMC report.
"We have met with all the leading figures in the community sector, including NICVA and the Human Rights Commission.

"We will not sit around and wait until we receive a letter informing us that funding has been cut on the basis of some unsubstantiated gossip," said Mr Corr.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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