Northern Ireland

Queen's academic Colin Harvey appointed to Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Queen's University's Professor Colin Harvey. Picture by Ivan Ewart
Queen's University's Professor Colin Harvey. Picture by Ivan Ewart

Colin Harvey, the Queen's University lecturer who has faced a unionist-led campaign of vilification, has been appointed to the Republic's human rights and equality institute.

He has been confirmed as one of six new members of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Derry-born academic, who is a board member of civic nationalist group Ireland's Future, has been singled out for criticism by leading unionist politicians, as well as being the target of violent threats on social media.

Last year, The Irish News revealed that the former Northern Ireland human rights commissioner and internationally-recognised expert had a panic button fitted in his office at Queen's and his nameplate removed from the door as a security measure.

His appointment to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was ratified at the end of last month by President Michael D Higgins, having previously been approved by both houses of the Oireachtas.

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Other recent appointees to the 15-member commission include barrister and international human rights lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC and Noeline Blackwell, solicitor and CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

Prof Harvey said his appointment was a "great honour and privilege".

"On a personal note, this is particularly meaningful recognition of my lifelong work for human rights and equality on this island," he told The Irish News. 

"I want to take the opportunity to thank publicly all those who expressed solidarity and support during difficult recent times – it made a genuine difference and was a welcome reminder of the collective values that underpin this vital work.

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said: "I’m delighted to welcome our new commission members whose experience and expertise will bring new perspective to our work on Ireland’s most pressing human rights and equality matters."