Rights lobby feeds off foreign critics
Eamon Delaney finds other countries' questions about human rights in Ireland somewhat hypocritical
'You'll need a strong stomach to sit around here," a seasoned mandarin told me as I prepared to begin a long session at the UN General Assembly in New York, meaning listening to the amount of blather and hypocrisy about human rights from countries which are busily stringing up people at home.
It was the same last week with the appearance of Ireland at the UN's human rights body in Geneva. A whole raft of Irish quangos and NGOs went along to see Justice Minister Alan Shatter being grilled by the bureaucrats and officials of other countries. More than 17 Irish officials accompanied the minister. And, even by the standards of the UN club, some of the questioning was extraordinary. We had Iran asking the minister about Ireland's alleged "xenophobia" and "treatment of Muslims". Iran, which ignores its own democratic elections and where gays are hanged!
We also had Slovakia and Pakistan asking about our treatment of Travellers. Slovakia, which has discriminated against both its Hungarian and Roma minorities; and Pakistan, a country which is utterly corrupt and riven with the human rights-shy Taliban. Afghanistan, a country falling apart -- and one revealed last week to be widely using torture in its police stations -- also criticised us. Don't the Afghans have better things to do?