Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gerard: The Examination

Today was the first day of the evaluation of the UK Government, and I thought it was at times both excellent and disappointing.

The highlight of the day was when Virginia Bras Gomes, the Vice Chair of the Committee, asked a question that was specific to one of the groups from North Belfast. She connected the issue of urban regeneration to the regeneration of Girdwood in North Belfast. She talked about her experience with the Residents’ Jury when she came to Northern Ireland last year.

But, most important for us, her question related to all of our groups. She asked how the British Government would make sure groups like ours could participate in a meaningful way in issues that affect them. She wanted to know if the government thought participation and human rights were integrally linked.

We also got a great opportunity to talk to the Algerian member of the Committee Mr. Azzouz Kardoun. He said he was really impressed by the strength of the organisations that were attending the meeting.

The most disappointing part of the day came during the British Government’s introduction. We learned that there were no representatives from Northern Ireland in attendance. They had planned to be there, but they canceled at short notice. Regardless, it was disappointing, especially as there are so many Northern Irish groups here in Geneva.

Although tomorrow is our last day here, we are looking forward to trying to make sure issues around mental health and housing in Northern Ireland are brought up by the Committee. Angie will be posting to let you know how it all goes.

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