What is a neutral working environment?

Shorts recently banned the display of a poster relating to the World Cup as it contained an England flag in order to maintain a neutral working environment. However, in the latest edition of its in-house magazine it has a feature on one of its managers who plays in the Antrim Hurling Team and is a member of the Patrick Sarsfield GAA club. Jim Wells has highlighted this as a hypocritical approach by Shorts and rejects the notion the GAA is simply a sporting organisation. He points out the Patrick Sarsfield GAA club recently held a 1981 Hunger Strike Commemorative Tournament.

  • English

    Ridiculous, the English flag has nothing to do with people here whatsoever. We are English, are from a seperate island and have a completely different culture. You don’t even play Sunday League football here! The flag should never have been up in the first place – it is an English flag.

  • TAFKABO

    English.

    There was no flag up in the first palec, there was a poster, upon which there was a flag.
    Besides which, yo useem to be missing the point of the blog, which is that a company which claims to foster a neutral enviroment allows one thing, but not another.

    Once again we hear that it’s only wrong when it comes from a specific direction.

  • Henry94

    I think anyone who objects to a display of a flag in relation to the World Cup has something seriously wrong with them.

  • Rapunsel

    Looks like Jim trying to get himself a bit of cheap publicity on this one. Approach on flags and emblems in the work place may seem petty when applied to a world cup poster. But management are probably correct to take a cautious approach along the lines of no flags and emblems whatsoever. I can only imagine what Shorts must have been like in the days before fair employment and equality legislation in respect of sectarian harassment in the work place. A quick search indicates 3 cases of discrimination by Shorts against catholic staff in 2001

    http://www.equalityni.org/whatsnew/archiveindiv.cfm?StoryID=105

    The in house magazine may be seen to be focusing on achievments of individual staff and presumably the extra curricular activities of other staff are also mentioned. I expect the company also might have a policy on the content of the magazine and as the GAA is not an illegal organisation and as presumably colleagues might know about someone’s involvement in sporting activities , I’m not sure what the issue is. I’d hope that other staff with involvement in sports might also be featured. Can’t access any information on Shorts online — but I have a suspicion that they have also ran features on their staff involved with the territorial army. Anyay Jim should be pleased that a “republican” seems to be working for the british defence industry or maybe that’s the problem.

  • English

    Oh, if it’s only a World Cup poster that is petty!

  • elfinto

    What is with loyalists and their flag addiction? As someone has already pointed out Norn Iron, is not part of England so why give prominence to the English flag? How would the loyalists feel if nationalist employees started hanging Ivory Coast flags upside down!?

    So what if a manager plays Gaelic football in his spare time. What business is it of anybody else’s? I suppose it boils down to the fact that some of the ‘boys’ aren’t too happy to have a Fenian as a manager.

    This is just another pathetic DUP whinge. They are bigoted beyond belief.

  • Betty Boo

    Elfinto,
    the British flag is not the same as the English flag.

  • Michael

    Well said

    elfinto

  • TAFKABO

    So what if a manager plays Gaelic football in his spare time.

    Elfinto.

    Why not ask Rapunzel?, since he implies in his post that the GAA is synonymous with Republicanism.
    How is it conducive to creating a neutral working enviroment by highlighting that managers are Republicans?

    Exactly who was threatend by a poster for the worlds largest sporting event?

  • Shabaz

    Its political correctness gone mad! All this over a world cup poster what a load of fudge.

    Im in full support of a workplace free from intimidation of any sort, and the issue of GAA in the mag is simply a side issue that the DUP have jumped on. Tit for tat nonsense.

    Neither item should be an issue in the first place. As said is not the union jack, its in the context of football during the world cup – get over it!

  • fair_deal

    elfinto

    “As someone has already pointed out Norn Iron, is not part of England so why give prominence to the English flag? How would the loyalists feel if nationalist employees started hanging Ivory Coast flags upside down!? ”

    If you could contain your ire for a moment and read the actual information.

    Prominence wasn’t given to the English flag nor was it to be displayed/flown. It was on a World Cup poster along with the other 31 flags including the Ivory coast.

    “So what if a manager plays Gaelic football in his spare time. What business is it of anybody else’s? ”

    The Company made it everyone else’s business when they put it in the company magazine. It is worth noting that like football tops GAA tops are not allowed to be worn in a workplace.

    The employers duty is to
    “promote a good and harmonious working environment and atmosphere in which no worker feels under threat or intimidated because of his or her religious belief or political opinion e.g. prohibit the display of flags, emblems, posters, graffiti, or the circulation of materials, or the deliberate articulation of slogans or songs, which are likely to give offence or cause apprehension among particular groups of employees.”

    “I suppose it boils down to the fact that some of the ‘boys’ aren’t too happy to have a Fenian as a manager.”

    What was that you said about whinge?

  • TAFKABO

    Just to recap.

    It fair for Northern Ireland players to have Irish passports, but not for Irish republic players to have British passports.

    It’s wrong to have a poster of the world cup if it has an English flag on it, but OK to highlght the activities of an avowedly republican sporting organisation in the company magazine.

    And if you want to be a teacher in the Republic, you have to speak a language that the overwhelming majority of unionists have no particular affinity to.

    Welcome to parity of esteem, Irish Republican style.
    You’re all doing a great job of convincing us we have nothing to fear from a united Ireland.

  • Ex UUP

    TAFKABO – “And if you want to be a teacher in the Republic, you have to speak a language that the overwhelming majority of unionists have no particular affinity to.”

    Or one that even those in the republic dont even use!

  • elfinto

    I am guessing that the poster in question was some kind of jingoistic nonsense put out by The Sun if it was banned. I bet they don;t put up with such nonsense in the Scottish workplace. Coincidentally, last week I helped to organise a display of England World Cup stuff in my workplace but I live in England!

    Quite what this has to do with the manager who plays GAA I do not know. If the guy was walking around in an Antrim top – fair enough – but apparently the fact that he plays GAA in his spare time is enough to label him a ‘republican’. Ridiculous!

  • TAFKABO

    Elfinto.

    Like I said, talk to ‘Rapunsel’

  • elfinto

    FD,

    If you could contain your ire for a moment and read the actual information.

    Prominence wasn’t given to the English flag nor was it to be displayed/flown. It was on a World Cup poster along with the other 31 flags including the Ivory coast.

    ** Where does it say that? Or did you just make it up?

    “So what if a manager plays Gaelic football in his spare time. What business is it of anybody else’s? “
    The Company made it everyone else’s business when they put it in the company magazine.

    ** So the guy plays sport. Big deal

    There is no linkage whatsoever between these matters and yet again you, and the DUP, are being totally dishonest.

  • MikeW

    Ex-UUP:

    “Or one that even those in the republic dont even use!”

    The gaelscoiles in the republic are taught exclusively through Irish, hardly a case of “don’t even use”. The irony of the situation (and I’m not sure if it was mentioned in the other section) is that if the requirement was lifted then teachers would have to be allowed to teach in any school, otherwise it would qualify as discrimination.

    TAFKABO

    “It fair for Northern Ireland players to have Irish passports, but not for Irish republic players to have British passports.”

    Players should be allowed to play for any country that they are qualified for regardless of passport (subject to the other rules around having appeared for another country). If you want to extend the debate to whether of not someone born is the South should automatically be entitled to a British passport, thats a different question (and outside of the ability of the Republic or the Republican or Nationalist community to do anything about).

    “It’s wrong to have a poster of the world cup if it has an English flag on it, but OK to highlght the activities of an avowedly republican sporting organisation in the company magazine.”

    Banning of the English flag of a football poster is an utter nonsense, but this was Shorts, hardly a bastion of republican control.

    “And if you want to be a teacher in the Republic, you have to speak a language that the overwhelming majority of unionists have no particular affinity to. ”

    Taking into account the reply to ex-UUP above, I would think that in the event of reunification the qualification would have to be somehow relaxed to allow a qualification in English and either Irish or Ulster-Scots to allow for schools that teach through that medium.

    “Welcome to parity of esteem, Irish Republican style.”

    Not sure how much of the comments above were anything particularly to do with Republicanism. Passport rubbish I believe was FIFA over-regulating, and Shorts as noted isn’t particularly republican. The Irish business admittedly is fairly Nationalistic in principle as it stands, but doubt it would survive reunification.

  • qubol

    you can’t compare these two things because like has been mentioned, Shorts has a long history of sectarian bias and discrimination – it’s only right therefore that Management take all steps necessary to maintain a neutral working environment. Having staff declare their allegiances through the hanging of posters is a recipe for disaster in such a big organisation. Sometimes these policies may seem over the top but strict enforcement is vital if the policy is to suceed. The Company Magazine is completely different, in it Management have the opportunity to maintain neutrality by looking at all sections of their workforce. Taking one article out of the magazine for comparison is disingenuous and wilfully misleading.

  • elfinto

    The most sinister aspect of this whole discussion is the singling out of an individual and the implication that because he plays GAA, therefore he is a republican. In an company with a history of discrimination such as Shorts this could potentially result in intimidation of the individual concerned. Absolutely despicable on the part of the DUP!!

  • English

    I still don’t understand why the English flag is such a big problem, especially on a poster – it is a flag of another country!

    THE ROOT OF THE FLAG PROBLEM HERE IS THE DISCRACEFUL USE OF THE UNION JACK, HANGING IT OUT TO MARK OUT TERRITORY AND INTIMIDATE PEOPLE. THE ENGLISH WOULD NOT USE THE FLAG IN THE SAME MANNER – IT BELONGS ON THE TOP OF BUILDINGS NOT LAMPOSTS!

  • Rapunsel

    “Why not ask Rapunzel?, since he implies in his post that the GAA is synonymous with Republicanism. ”

    “Like I said, talk to ‘Rapunsel’ ”

    TAFKABO

    I think you are missing my point on purpose here. qubol and elfinto have in my view got this issue spot on. I have not equated the GAA with republicanism and nor would I. Jim Wells and the DUP have ( you too by the way) and doing so have singled out an individual under the convenience of an attack on the company itself. Lets hope that the issue goes no further for that individual and hopefully there will not be too many of his colleagues with the attitude of TAFKABO. Jim musn’t have been getting enough positive media coverage lately the squabble about chairing the assembly committee with Francie Molloy didn’t put him in a good light.

  • tim

    The whole thread stinks of trying to target an individual.

    Fair_deal’s motives have to be questioned & reminds me of the old chinese whispers campaigns when innocent people were murdered by this type of crap.

    It really is quite sinister.

    The orange order may have its problems, but trying to target people for possible assasination is a bit to far for Slugger.

  • elfinto

    I still don’t understand why the English flag is such a big problem, especially on a poster – it is a flag of another country!

    English,

    Think of Sun type jingoism captured in a poster with St George’s cross. Think of the ‘support the British team mentality’ promoted in some quarters (outsde of Scotland) Difficult to image for you maybe but, what if you’re not British and you don’t support England? What if you work in a company where there has been a history of discrimination and intimidation against non-British employees? Could such displays put you ill at ease?

    Basically there are some in the loyalist community who will use any symbols to get one over the other side. And that includes an England flag they have no particular affection for.

  • English

    Elfinto,

    I suppose that’s why so many people here wear England tops – it really annoys me! It is a pity that people cannot follow their own sad culture and identity without hijacking my culture – they will give the English a bad name, not to mention the fact that they make complete idiots of themselves.

    English

  • elfinto

    Fair_deal’s motives have to be questioned & reminds me of the old chinese whispers campaigns when innocent people were murdered by this type of crap.

    Well said, tim. I think of the Catholic man who was murdered by his loyalist co-workers while he was repairing a ship at H & W.

  • elfinto

    English,

    Did you hear about the episode in Edinburgh when a drunk in a Rangers shirt punched a young child in the head for wearing an England shirt? The thug then head-butted the kids father (who was from NZ) and told him that he should support Scotland!

  • IJP

    Henry94 is correct.

    The problem with ‘political correctness’ is that it has an alarming habit of biting back on those enforce it daftly in the first place!

  • elfinto

    Would you regard Fair Employment as ‘political correctness’, IJP? Because Short’s record WAS appalling.

  • We recently had a VE Day exhibition at work, but were not allowed to include any images of the Union Jack.

  • elfinto

    … yet you might have been among the first to complain about a display containing the Irish tricolour in your workplace.

  • elfinto

    At the very least the DUP campaign against this individual is opening him up to the possibility of sectarian harrassement.

    Actually, this IS already sectarian harrassment.

  • bob

    So lets start a new thread exposing all our fellow workers who belong to the orange order/apprentice & black..

    lets not name them individually, but name recent publications or areas were they can be publically recognised.

    Can i start….

  • Nevin

    English football supporters already have a bad name – and they don’t need any assistance in the ‘idiot’ department 😉

  • Sean Fear

    How utterly horrifying! An England Flag on a World Cup poster! How could Short’s employees be expected to tolerate that!

    Cromwell’s activities in Seventeenth Century Ireland pale into insignificance by comparison.

  • skinbop

    is anyone working at shorts these days anyway?
    elfinto should take a chill pill.

  • willis

    Might be worth reminding y’all that Shorts Aerospace is now Bombardier (Canada) and Shorts Missiles is now Thales (French)

  • Betty Boo

    While we are at reminders;
    This is the English flag: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_England

    and this is the British flag: http://images.google.com/images?q=British+flag&hl=en

    Which one is on the poster?

  • willis

    Another reminder

    Jim Wells is a MLA for South Down

    Bombardier is in East Belfast

    The MP for East Belfast, also a member of the DUP is rather more interested in making speeches about the future economy than stupid press releases about nothing. He gave that up long ago.

  • lib2016

    Like school children trying to test the limits of the teacher’s patience! I understand that five-year-olds are particularly keen on this kind of behaviour.

    For very understandable reasons flags have had to be banned in the workplace and sometimes that will lead to anomalies. Is it the marching season or simple madness that led to anyone expecting otherwise?

  • Sean Fear

    It’s better, Lib 2016, to treat Northern Ireland’s employees as adults rather than as children.

  • Procrasnow

    Should my cousin not have a right to work in a neutral working environment, if others have that right,

    He is a street cleaner, for Belfast city Council.

    Can street flags and emblems be banned to provide those whose working place are the streets, with neutral working environments?

    Maybe this is one for MrBuchanan DUP MLA who is raising the same issue in relation to a bank in Omagh displaying GAA material

  • AlanMaskey

    Strange that Fair Deal and the RIRA have so much in common: hatred of GAA people. Strrange too the GAA types who get caught in the cross fire. Intenr country GAA players have been killed by the PIRA. The C/S of the Free State Army is a former inter county player.
    There can be no peace whilst Loyalists want a return to the old days of intimindating and killing Catholic workers. Indeed, whilst these BNP types exist, there can be no peace.

  • RepublicanStones

    is this the real Lib2016?