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Sinn Féin express disappointment at court ruling

4 May, 2007

Sinn Féin Equality Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has expressed disappointment at the ruling by the Court of Appeal Case in Belfast today challenging the right of schools to discriminate against teachers on the grounds of religion.

The test case which was supported by the Equality Commission, involved Caroline Flynn and Beatrice Debast, two Catholic teachers who work at Laurelhill Community College in Lisburn. They applied unsuccessfully for the post of
head of modern languages in the school, but the job was given to two non-Catholic candidates on a job share basis.

Ms Anderson said:

"This was an important case and I am disappointed at the fact that the educational tribunal will not be refered to the House of Lords because while many people want to protect the ethos of individual schools many people
will also agree that discrimination against any teacher on the grounds of religion should have no place within our schools.

"In the past there has been an exemption within our school system which allowed schools here to discriminate on religious grounds when making new teaching appointments, something that would otherwise be illegal under fair
employment legislation.

"However, the legal framework is clear that within schools that promotion internally must be free from discrimination and all applicants must be treated equally. A European Equal Treatment Directive now means that while currently religion can be taken into account when a teacher is being appointed to a new post, that once a teacher is employed they must have equal rights to promotion.

"Sinn Féin have spoken to the family of one of the protagonists and we support the fact that they will contine their fight." Deireadh

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