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This week a Roman Catholic man was awarded a settlement against the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, without acceptance of liability in a dispute over 'sectarian harassment' while working for the housing body.

DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has said this must not be allowed to cloud the judgment of either the NIHE itself or the Equality Commission when both bodies need to deal with the underlying problem at the NIHE, which is one of severe disadvantage in the Protestant community when assessing the numbers of those who are employed overall by that organisation.

Mr. Campbell said,

“Obviously it is the right of any individual to take a case against an employer if they feel they have been treated unfairly. What must not happen however is that a large employer overlooks the much bigger employment picture as a result of a single case.

There has been an underlying problem which I have been pressing both NIHE and the Equality Commission about for many years. There is an under representation of Protestants among their substantial workforce of some 3,000 staff across Northern Ireland.

When the Police had a problem recruiting Catholics, Her Majesty’s Government implemented a discriminatory 50/50 rule to try and improve numbers. This was in place for ten years. I repeatedly made the point that statistically there was a better chance of a Roman Catholic becoming a police officer than there was of a Protestant becoming a housing officer. This was because for the last 20 or 30 years there has consistently been only around 35% of Housing Executive employees who were Protestant while more than 35% of those joining the Police were Roman Catholic. That was even before the introduction of the 50/50 rule in the Police.

Significant and persistent under representation of a community in a workforce needs to be addressed and measures put in place to resolve the underlying problem which has gone on for far too long.”