Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Caitriona Ruane MLA - Access to Employment - motion 172

18 February, 2006

Discrimination is alive and in the north of Ireland.

Let no one be under any illusions about the serious problems with the civil service in the Six Counties. It remains a huge barrier to equality - a bastion of intransigence.

At senior level in every department in the north, Catholics are under represented.

Within the NIO, the most powerful of the departments, less than 1 in 4 of core departmental staff are Catholic.

Out of over 1,800 staff ˆ 1 is based in my own constituency of South Down, 1 in Fermanagh South Tyrone, 3 in West Belfast yet over 1,400 in East, North and South Belfast.

This is not without consequence.

In many key areas - on issues such as inward investment ˆ there are clear failures, clear evidence that the patterns and legacy of discrimination are not being tackled.

At a senior level there are many who are actively working against change and equality.

An analysis of Invest NI patterns of investment shows that the six most income and employment deprived council areas together- Strabane, Derry, Omagh, Moyle, Cookstown and Newry and Mourne- get less financial assistance and will receive less planned investment than wealthy South Belfast.

Irish citizens cannot even apply for certain jobs - only this month Sinn Féin highlighted the decision of the Six County Public Prosecution Service to ban Irish citizens from applying for legal posts.

This is clearly unacceptable, it is contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and nothing less than blatant discrimination.

The British government know they must remove the ban on Irish citizens from senior civil service posts.

They know that the under representation of Catholics in the senior levels of the civil service must be tackled.

They need to right this wrong.

This is why inequality and discrimination continue in the North. The civil service is part of the problem.

Sinn Féin will not tolerate discrimination. We fought against in 1905, in 1921, 1969, and we will fight it in. I want to commend motion 172.

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