Byline: CIARAN McKEOWN
THE slow-burning row over the conduct of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was further inflamed yesterday as the Alliance Party accused polit- icians and others of deliberately discrediting the commission, and warned of a ''sectarian carve-up'' of the body.
As the SDLP threatened to seek the resignation of NIHRC chief Prof Brice Dickson, Alliance justice spokesman, Stephen Farry, said he was ''appalled at the current attempts by former commissioners, certain academics and nationalist politicians'' to discredit the commission.
"Alliance continues to have full confidence in the work of the commission and its chief commissioner. We may not agree with every stance the commission adopts but we recognise that they are attempting to fulfil their mandate in a professional manner,'' he said.
"Alliance will oppose any efforts to marginalise the commission in relation to its work on a Bill of Rights.
"The best route to deliver a Bill of Rights is for a group of independent experts to make recommendations based on widespread consultation with political partners and civic society.
"It would be a disaster, and an invitation for a sectarian carve-up, for this to be left to the political parties,'' Mr Farry said.
"One of the key disputes seems to be based upon a reactionary view of the Agreement where Northern Ireland must be institutionally divided into a Protestant unionist majority and Catholic nationalist minority where rights are primarily a concern for the latter rather than for all sections of the community. …