27/07/2012

TUV Leader Accuses Sinn Fein Of Sectarian Discrimination

The leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party has accused Sinn Fein ministers of discriminating against Protestants when appointing people to public office.

Jim Allister said Catholics have been favoured for roles in the departments of regional development, culture, arts and leisure and agriculture.

Sinn Fein said his claims were "pathetic".

Following a high-profile industrial tribunal that found Alan Lennon, a Protestant, was overlooked for the post of chairman at Northern Ireland Water when Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy was minister, Mr Allister asked other Sinn Fein departments for employment information.

He specified that he wanted to know the success rates for Protestants and Catholics in ministerial appointments since May 2007.

Mr Allister said Caral Ni Chuillin replied to the assembly question giving appointments since she came to office in May 2011.

In her department, 14 Catholics were appointed out of 71 applicants, while 70 Protestant applicants got just six roles.

Mr Allister said: "If you are a Catholic applicant you are twice as likely to receive an appointment as a Protestant. The facts speak very loudly. My role is to point it out and draw public attention to it."

Figures submitted by Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill showed 20 Protestants were appointed out of 159 applicants, and 24 were appointed out of 72 applicants.

Sinn Fein issued a statement saying ministerial public appointments followed Commissioner for Public Appointments regulations.

It read: "Jim Allister's attempts to introduce sectarianism into every debate are pathetic."

Mr Allister does not appear to have vetted ministries controlled by any other party except Sinn Fein.

(NE)

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