Northern Ireland news

Former UUP assembly member among new appointments to Human Rights Commission

Former UUP Assembly member John McCallister
Seanin Graham

A FORMER Ulster Unionist MLA and a retired health chief are among six new appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

John McCallister, who was a UUP assembly member for South Down for six years before leaving to co-found the NI21 party, will take up the role next month alongside ex-Public Health Agency chief executive Eddie Rooney.

Former chief electoral officer and retired police officer Graham Shields has also been selected alongside lawyer Helena Macormac and Paul Mageean, a former head of Criminal Justice Inspectorate.

The sixth appointment is Helen Ferguson, who has extensive experience in the community and voluntary sector.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby said the appointments come at a "crucial period", with its challenge to abortion laws at the Supreme Court due in October.

The findings of a commission probe into Traveller accommodation is also expected in coming months.

"The protection and promotion of human rights is vital in these uncertain political times," Mr Allamby said.

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