Hi boy, listen tae this…

TALKBACK in five minutes will be live from Ballymena, with, no doubt, plenty to say about the usual ‘Ballymena’ topics – sectarianism and shopping. And don’t forget funny accents, dopey DUP councillors excusing the bigotry that does occur and angry republican callers lambasting the entire town to feel some kind of collective guilt. One-dimensional analysis that reinforces the stereotype again, or will there be any surprises this time? Imagine Dunseith finding something positive to say about the town!

  • Stephen,

    There is a lot of blocking and counter blocking on this question.

    Those here who accuse Sinn Fein of attempting to de-stablise a ‘Unionist’ business can at least point to Mitchel’s Humphries’ interview, in which he outlined his party’s primary achievement as “the degree of uncertainty and the lack of confidence in the unionist community!”

    There is a useful question being raised here over the company’s employment figures which you have kindly recovered and brought to Slugger’s readers. And I hope we will get an answer of the kind you suggest.

    But it is also just as legimate to suggest that this question arises as much from a publicly stated strategy of trying to destablise unionism the unionist community as it does for legitimate concern for the economic welfare of North Antrim’s Catholic constituents.

  • Stephen Copeland

    If you want a job try here.

    From the ad:

    “The Company has a strong Christian ethos and as such welcomes people from all religions, secular and racial traditions, and irrespective of race, religion, political beliefs, gender or disability will purely apply the merit principle in the selection procedure for employment with the Company. A recent review of applicants indicates that we receive less applicants from the Roman Catholic Community than could be expected. For this reason, we would particularly welcome applications from this community.”

    BTW do you really think I’m anonymous? I have a nom de plume, to be sure, but make no attempt to hide my identity.

  • Stephen Copeland

    pakman,

    Thanks for the ads. However I am currently well employed elsewhere.

    Although the specific welcome from Catholic applicants is good, I’m not certain that, on its own, could be considered ‘affirmative action’. No doubt, however, there is more, since, as you say, they have agreed a plan of action with the Equality Commission. It was more that plan that I would like to know about.

    And I must apologise – I have no idea who you are. ‘pakman’ is clearly not your name, and your blog also doesn’t give it, so to me you remain an anonymous poster. If you aren’t trying to hide your identity, here’s a hint: put your name on your posts!

  • larneman

    CC
    you are quite right, me mammy is much too superficial in blaming one man.

    Sure there are 15 of your mates running the Council after all… denouncing Harry Potter, banning ELO (thats right not the Sex Pistols or Snop Doggy Bleedin Dog but Seventies rockers ELO) from playing at the Showgrounds, blaming Hurricanes on Homosexuals, saying Catholics cant get into heaven, etc etc etc.

    Maybe Ballymena deserves all the stick it gets for voting for these clowns

  • “Stephen Copeland”

    I could sign the posts “Peter King” but how would you know that was my real name?

  • Stephen Copeland

    pakman,

    Did you just ‘come out’?

    If so, are you a different person to Peking?

  • kensei

    “Are you happy that this has now been killed “stone dead”?”

    Almost. The ad is a good start, but it would need be a continuous and on going process. Come back a six months or a year from now and see if there has been an increase in the number of applicants or employees.

    And if the furore over this has caused them to look at it, then surely SF have done their job?

  • Harry

    DK helpfully informed us that one of the reasons for the absence of catholics from this firm may be the following:
    Skills. Maybe for the job type (engineering) catholics are less likely to be trained than protestants

    Would you like to explain this?

  • He’s probably talking about the prominence of science in state schools, over arts dominant Catholic schools.

    Ours was so short that we had an industrial chemist shipped in from the local Tech College. Lovely man, but he couldn’t teach for toffee.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    pakman,

    labour as you will, trying to divert attention away from the overt sectarianism practiced in Ballymena right across the board simply wont wash, admirable though your efforts are.

    It is a particularly lame ruse to shout ‘SF’ and expect a Pavlov’s dog reaction from the usual suspects, though your persistence in ignoring the sectarianism is at least consistent with the behaviour of unionists in that part of the world.

  • Peter Brown

    Pat

    That’s rich given the recent SF & SDLP reaction to the sectarian crime statistics in the town – which could be summarised as we only like the facts that support our subjective opinion….

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Mick Fealty: “I might also say that constantly drawing pejorative parallels between the Orange and the KKK doesn’t make it true – except in the feverish imaginations of those who constantly assert it – without in the least ever offering a shred of evidence. ”

    Let’s see… funny outfits, anti-Catholic rhetoric, a pechant for marching where their presence is not desired and occasional bouts of violence in their wake. That good enough for starters?

  • Not nearly enough for some of the gruesome inferences involved. The problem I have with it that rhetoric is that it is often a signal that people are gradually detaching from on-the-ground-reality.

    If you are going to launch a full scale polemical attack on the Loyal Orders then by all means do it head on. But too often it becomes an cypher for something that people just personally hate: whether it adheres to physical reality or not doesn’t seem to matter.

    Now there is nothing wrong with emoting. But on a site like Slugger if everyone gives into the survivalist urges of the reptilian brain then we’ll end up with a lot of scorched earth rather than a stable common (battle)ground.

    On a different note, I am puzzled as to why such a hot thread has suddenly gone so cold as soon as Mitchel’s candid remarks were mentioned.

  • [i]Mick Fealty: “I might also say that constantly drawing pejorative parallels between the Orange and the KKK doesn’t make it true – except in the feverish imaginations of those who constantly assert it – without in the least ever offering a shred of evidence. “

    Let’s see… funny outfits, anti-Catholic rhetoric, a pechant for marching where their presence is not desired and occasional bouts of violence in their wake. That good enough for starters?[/i]

    Alas, the simialarities go far beyond that. It seems to me that Mick’s image of the Klan is based upon its current status — which is, admittedly — quite different from that of the OO. But, in its heydey, from 1890 to after WW2, the Klan, like the OO, was full of “decent, law-abiding” people, i.e. clergymen (except Catholic or Jewish), school teachers, school principals, mayors, councilmen, judges, lawyers, doctors, local businessmen, police chiefs and/or county sheriffs, state cops, police officers and deputy sheriffs. And very few could be elected to any political office without the Klan’s approval in the “Solid South”, basically the 11 States of the CSA.

    And, though the thugs often did wear Klan regalia when they were going about their violence. the Klan itself never offically and publicly encouraged or condoned the violence.

    And the rhetoric of too many Orange apologists all too often reminds Americans of the rhetoric of the Klansmen and segregationists of the 1950-1975 era.

    Sorry, Mick, but the Klan and the OO are very similar in both outlook and methodolgy. Don’t get confused by the modern Klan which is, IMHO, a refuge for nutcases and bigots. The Klan of the early and middle 20th century certainly had its share of such — as does the OO — but many joined the Klan for the social and economic advantages it provided– just as many joined the OO for much the same reasons.

    But, the organizations are very simlar.

  • All the comment about Wrightbus being in conformity with all the laws of NI is interesting but, I’m afraid misses an important point. RTC, on the face of it, is in violation of US laws by placing a contract with an NI company which engages in discriminatory hiring practices.

    Assuming the figures presented are accurate, i.e. only 4.7% Catholic out of a workforce of over 700 and in an area which is 20% Catholic, Wrightbus is engaging in discriminatory hiring practices.

    Now, there may be good reasons for this which will excuse the Company for the imbalance in its workforce and which will allow RTC to continue to do business with the Company but that is for the US to determine, not NI.

    Put another way: if you want our business, conduct your own properly by our standards. All the comments about Wrightbus being in full compliance with NI law are, sorry about this, meaningless in this context.

  • Harry

    He’s probably talking about the prominence of science in state schools, over arts dominant Catholic schools.

    First I’ve heard of ‘arts dominant Catholic schools’. When I was at school we had the full range of arts and science subjects.

  • Bob McGowan

    “All the comments about Wrightbus being in full compliance with NI law are, sorry about this, meaningless in this context”

    Not if the US recognises that the NI employment laws are the benchmark for their own domestic tests.

    Stephen Copeland

    I’ve never been in to be outed (you must be thinking of a namesake :-))- see reactions on this site to day one of “We Perish…”

  • [i]”Not if the US recognises that the NI employment laws are the benchmark for their own domestic tests.”[/i]

    Nope, McBride principles are the test. Conformity with NI law is meaningless. Conformity with US law is the test.

  • curious

    Doesn’t the Mcbride Principles only cover US companies that HAVE business extensions in NI and not companies that do business with Northern Irish companies?

  • McGrath

    Curious

    “Doesn’t the Mcbride Principles only cover US companies that HAVE business extensions in NI and not companies that do business with Northern Irish companies?”

    No.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacBride_Principles

    Even though it is not specifically mentioned in the attached link, the MacBride Principles are set down in federal law and as a result of closer government oversight, they apply more specifically to US Government agencies at a federal, state and local levels.

  • Mick Fealty

    Here are the priniciples:

    * 1) Increasing the representation of individuals from under-represented religious groups in the workforce including managerial, supervisory, administrative, clerical and technical jobs.

    * 2) Adequate security for the protection of minority employees both at the workplace and while travelling to and from work.

    * 3) The banning of provocative religious or political emblems at the workplace.

    * 4) All job openings should be publicity advertised and special recruitment efforts should be made to attract applicants from under-represented religious groups.

    * 5) Lay-off, recall, and termination procedures should not in practice favor particular religious groupings.

    * 6) The abolition of job reservations, apprenticeship restrictions and differential employment criteria, which discriminate on the basis of religious or ethnic origin.

    * 7) The development of training programs that will prepare substantial numbers of current minority employees for skilled jobs, including the expansion of existing programs and the creation of new programs to train, upgrade, and improve the skills of minority employees.

    * 8) The establishment of procedures to assess, identify, and actively recruit minority employees with the potential for further advancement.

    * 9) The appointment of a senior management staff member to oversee the company’s affirmative action efforts and the setting up of timetables to carry out affirmative action principles.

    I’m not sure how a single ‘snapshot’ of the current situation can establish whether employment figures are increasing or not. Even a prima facie case would need a second set of figures to establish contravention, surely?

    No information (to my knowledge at least) concerning the rest of the criteria appear to be known as yet.

  • Bob McGowan

    “Assuming the figures presented are accurate, i.e. only 4.7% Catholic out of a workforce of over 700 and in an area which is 20% Catholic, Wrightbus is engaging in discriminatory hiring practices”

    Know any good lawyers?

  • Harry

    Unionists seem very defensive over this whole issue, as if scrutiny itself is some form of a threat.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    The only Catholic I know who worked in Wrightbus left, at least in part due to the sectarianism he experienced there. I don’t know whether he complained or not, so can’t read too much into it, but there you go. Perhaps the problem lies in the attitude of some of the workforce to Catholics (which the company should tackle), rather than the company’s employment practices, which haven’t been illegal.

    Certainly, Wrightbus seems more progressive (in business terms) than its former owner (in political terms), but I suppose that’s not really the issue.

    Are the loyalist flags around the exterior of the factory still up, or did they come down? Not the company’s responsibility admittedly, but a while ago there seemed to be an unusually high number flying from the lampposts on the road leading to Wrightbus, and down the side of it.

    My only real experience of Willie Wright was the time he and a couple of Orange goons threw me to the ground at a parade in Dunloy. But that’s another story.

  • staff

    Unless I’m wrong (very possible) There was a coach building company from Ballymema named in court about 4 years ago when most of its employees went awol to remove tricolours and got into trouble is this the same squad.

  • curious

    From Wright-Bus

    “Please see the following information regarding our Company employment practices / aims:-

    1. Welcoming Statement on all Company advertisements:

    “The Company has a strong Christian ethos and as such welcomes people from all religions, secular and racial traditions, and irrespective of race, religion, political beliefs, gender or disability will purely apply the merit principle in the selection procedure for employment with the Company. A recent review of applicants indicates that we receive less applicants from the Roman Catholic Community than could be expected. For this reason, we would particularly welcome applications from this Community.”

    2. To work in partnership with schools from both sides of the community to accommodate work experience, factory visits and general company information.

    3. To take an active role in career conventions to promote opportunities within Wrights to schools from both sides of the community.

    4. To arrange open days at the factory and invite a number of schools from both sides of the community to offer them an insight into our company and the opportunities therein for employment.

    Some of the schools where we have been pro-active in promoting Wrights as an employer of choice over the last year include:

    1. Ballymena Academy Grammar School – State School
    2. Dunfane Special School – Integrated
    3. St Louis Grammar School – CCMS (Council Catholic Maintained Schools)
    4. Ballee Community School – State School
    5. Cambridge House Grammar School – State School
    6. Cullybackey High School – State School
    7. Dunclug College – State School
    8. St Aloysius High School – CCMS
    9. St Patricks College – CCMS
    10. Slemish College – Integrated
    11. Parkhall College – State School
    12. St Malachy’s High School – CCMS
    13. Massereene Community School
    14. North East Institute of Further & Higher Education – Integrated

    Breakdown of Workforce for Wrightbus:

    Year 2004 – Protestant = 93.2% – Roman Catholic = 4.6% – Non-Determined = 2.2%

    Year 2005 – Protestant = 90.5% – Roman Catholic = 4.9% – Non- Determined = 4.6%

    Year 2006 – Protestant = 89.1% – Roman Catholic = 6.2% – Non-Determined = 4.7%

    Year 2006 (Incl. Foreign Employees) – Protestant = 81.7% – Roman Catholic = 14% – Non-Determined = 4.3%

    N.B. Ballymena is the company’s catchment area and the breakdown is as follows:-
    80% = Protestant – 20% = Roman Catholic

    Please also see following attachment of letter which we received from Mr Eugene McGlone, Dep Regional Secretary of Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union in Ireland, who is our external Union official representing almost 500 workers at Wrightbus Ltd.

    <>

    William Wright
    Chairman
    Wrightbus Ltd

    Sent by:
    ****************