Commission on Flags, Identify, Culture and Tradition making the headlines before it starts work

Commissioner for Public Appointments very disappointed with lack of women members on the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition.

The Commissioner for Public Appointments has expressed her disappointment at the appointment of only 1 woman to the 13 large Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition.  She said that such an outcome ‘ is at total odds with the gender equality targets for public appointments agreed by the NI Executive in March of this year’. The Commissioner has written to First Minister and deputy First Minister expressing her concern and disappointment.

“I know that the Commission is not a regulated body under the public appointments legislation and strictly speaking the targets do not apply to appointments made to it, nevertheless it is a body of people appointed by Ministers to carry out a public role. The difference between the two types of bodies does not justify ignoring the principle of diversity and female representation set out in the Executive targets.”

The appointments to the Commission do not just reflect a lost opportunity by Ministers to implement a publicly stated commitment through action but appear to completely contradict that commitment.

The subject matter for the Commission is politically sensitive and the composition of the Commission suggests that decision making and advice in this area is best done mainly by men.  This is plainly wrong but it also presents a backward image of Northern Ireland.

I am sure that the individual members of the Commission are very able and I want to stress that I am not in any way questioning the ability of any individual appointee.  The responsibility for appointments rests with Ministers and they have set up a body that in its overall composition presents an extremely old fashioned image of a public body that runs counter to participative democracy. It is not a good image for Northern Ireland.

Notes to editors:

  1. Judena Leslie was appointed Commissioner for Public Appointments (CPA NI) on 1 September 2015. The Commissioner’s role was created in 1995, in response to the first report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Its remit was to provide guidance for departments on procedures for making public appointments; to audit those procedures and report on them annually, and to investigate complaints about the appointment process.
  2. For media enquiries please contact the CPA NI Office on 028 9052 4820 or e-mail info@publicappointmentsni.org.