Catholics to be brought into Ulster's job elite

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Government has ordered a review of its employment practices in Northern Ireland after new figures found that less than a quarter of its senior civil servants were Catholics.

The Government has ordered a review of its employment practices in Northern Ireland after new figures found that less than a quarter of its senior civil servants were Catholics.

In a report to Parliament published yesterday, ministers revealed that just 23 per cent of the higher grades were filled by Catholics and less than 10 per cent by women. The Catholic population of Northern Ireland stands at around 40 per cent.

Following consultation with the Fair Employment and Equal Opportunity Commissions, the Government is setting targets to correct the imbalance. Ministers will announce "shortly" details of a review of its recruitment practices for senior grades within the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), the report stated.

"The Government intends to review progress in promoting fair participation in the senior Civil Service and to seek to identify further measures which would help the NICS at senior levels to become more representative of the Northern Ireland community as a whole," it said.

The figures showed that significant progress had been made on recruitment during the last 15 years - in 1985 just 5.9 per cent of senior posts were filled by Catholics.

The Government's comments came in its response to a scathing report by the Northern Ireland select committee on religious discrimination which was published earlier this year.

During Mo Mowlam's tenure as Northern Ireland Secretary, she oversaw the establishment of a new Equality Commission to stamp out discrimination in the province. The commission took over the functions of other equality bodies on 1 October.

Peter Mandelson, the new Secretary of State, is expected to make a Commons Order next month to ensure that public authorities in Ulster are subject to legal restrictions on religious balance. The RUC is the most significant public authority which is due to be covered by the 1998 Northern Ireland Act's duty of equality, but a separate decision on its status will be made in the Government's response to the Patten Report.

Yesterday's report also accepted that Catholics still face high levels of discrimination in the workplace in the province, with unemployment rates much higher than those of Protestants.

Comments