Equality Commission taken to task for under-representations

DUP councillor Charlie Tosh has attacked the Equality Commission for its under-representation of Protestants and men alleging discrimination while Bob Collins argues the EC is “frustrated” that so far efforts to deal with the imbalances have been unsuccessful. However, not have they failed to improve the situation but in terms of protestant representation it has been getting worse (see below). So far none of the standard under-representation approaches have succeeded in solving the imbalance, any ideas of what the EC and employers in similar situations can do now?This problem of Protestant under-representation has existed since the Equality Commission was established in 1999 and dogged its main predecessor the Fair Employment Commission. In 2001 (Page 95) the percentage of workers from a Protestant background were 43.4%, by 2004 this had dropped to 40.2% and the latest FoI figures show a further drop to 38%. (There are not similar reporting requirements for gender balance so those figures are unavaiable.)

  • mick de dublin anarchist

    The Equality Commission should very quickly be done away with

    Erm. He thinks that there should be representative employment on this body, but he doesn’t think there should be any body monitoring the representativity of employment?

    If he was even pretending to care about equality he should surely have advocated reforms rather than abolition. But then again, my old-fashioned logic is no match for the workings of the DUP brain. It’s all a godless feminazi plot? Or is it just good ol’ fashioned papists?

  • aquifer

    Job adverts are often far too prescriptive in terms of the type and level of experience they demand. One recent public sector advert essentially demanded extensive recent commercial experience for a job that was more administrative. The post was not filled.

    Does the EC monitor the proportions of the different types of protestants in posts? Otherwise little sects and churches could quietly reserve jobs for their own.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    any ideas of what the EC and employers in similar situations can do now?

    Let Peter Hain appoint people instead? After all, he’s not a man to let politically-correct red tape stand in the way of getting a Protestant a job in the right place.


  • rapunsel

    In my view there are still restrictive practices taking place in recruitment and selection not least in the voluntary and community sector where “local knowledge” as essential experience for a job is used to limit the pool of candidates to those of the right religious background/political opinion. It’s a complex area. Might it be provocatively said that there is underrepresentation from the protestant community and men in the Equality Commission because both groups do not believe that discrimination against others exists and are therefore less likely to seek a job with an organisation seeking to challenge discrimination and inequality in the workplace?

    Just a thought!

  • Amy Lee O Rate

    I heard this interview with Bob Collins on Talk Back today. Tosh is really confused and didn’t seem to understand Will Crawley’s questions. Then Bob Collins blamed Unionist politicians for bad-mouthing the Equality Commission. When Crawley pushed him on that he started eating his words and suggesting that the negative representations of the Commission was “part” (only part) of the problem. What’s the other part? The BBC report cited in this post doesn’t mention Collins’s attack on Unionist politicians. Surely that’s a key part of the story?

  • lib2016

    Unionists can never be accused of being too subtle. As numerous surveys by the Equality Commission have shown the junior and middle ranks of the Civil Service are increasingly female and Catholic. Over the next few years that will include the senior levels. Hence the sudden interest by unionist politicans in halting any investigation of promotions. They have no chance if my female relatives are correct in their version of events!

    This is all too much like the innocent little threads about forcing Catholics into state schools earlier this year when it became clear that state schools in the West were being forced to close due to lack of numbers.

  • Tosh I hear you say yes it was …….Radio Alster today broadcast an attack on the equality commission by a dup councillor who if you stood really close to you could hear the ocean. From start to finish we waited with baited breathto hear cliche man use phrases like some of my best friends are taigs, yes i love coloured people and women yes they have a place – just in the kitchen.

    His contention that them damn pesky taigs are taking over the place and at the equality commission actually made me think – gee whiz wonder what im having for lunch today. The fact that the BBC gave more airtype to oberstumbanfurher tosh instead of the story of the commission fighting the good fight on behalf of the boy with spinal bifta makes me think either williams very smart or this DUP guy showed hes such a dick.

    Here’s a view which may fly in the face of public opinion: Catholics are by defintion more socially aware and accepting of society than protestants. they believe in social justice. Consequently they take positions in liberal or human rights organisations. Woman yes them things are more caring knowledgable about discrimination and socially aware than men. Men don’t want those types of jobs anymore than they want a job teaching in primary schools.

    My point is this – a unionist councillor has time to attack the EC – why, who prompted him and what’s th agenda? Oh its a strategy that the DUP are engaged in i hear you say. Yes it is. NOw ask yourself the next question why is bob mcacartney and unionists so interested in smearing ccea and gavin boyd? hmmm

    wait for the next thing —–

    cost of catholic schools
    cost of peace money in catholic areas
    cost of housing

    civil service jobs who has them and why

    new authorities in education – where will they be sited – protestant areas or catholic

    the more you scratch the more you find…..journos need to scratch a little and look at recent parliamentary questions by the dup in particular.

    Times running out and the dup are hell bent on kicking up the shit …….why?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Almost TWICE as many Roman Catholics than Protestants work for the “EQUALITY Commission” and MORE than TWICE as many women than men work for the said organisation…it doesn’t take a genius to see the sheer hypocrisy of it all. When Protestants were over-represented in the RUC some nationalist politicians lamented about it to such an extent that I had to check Teletext to make sure Protestants dressed in RUC uniforms weren’t ritually hanging Roman Catholics from the top of City Hall, and not under-representation in a police force, which was what they were actually bleating about. Will these same whiners now take up the cause of Protestants and men who are being discriminated against by the very organisation who purports to defend them from institutionalised discrimination?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I am shocked to find no nationalists are “outraged”, “horrified” or “furious” about the institutionalised sectarianism and sexism endemic in the so-called “Equality Commission”, clear for all to see with their discriminatory recruitment of Roman Catholic and female staff at the expense of Protestants and men!
    NICRA 2006 – Sectarianism KILLS Workers

  • Garibaldy


    Sectarianism kills workers. Couldn’t agree more. Glad to see this realisation sinking in more broadly than it has up to now.

  • lib2016

    Concerned Loyalist,

    Republicans have spoken and even acted on behalf of loyalists who are not getting their fair share of jobs.

    1/ Adams first speech at Stormont raised the necessity of tackling the problem.

    2/McGuinness moved to abolish the eleven-plus which disadvantages working class loyalists, against the wishes of the unionist parties which preferred to please the unionist middleclasses and ignore the loyalists.

    3/It is because of nationalist insistence on having an Equality Commission that we know that there is such a problem. The unionist middleclasses are leaving for their education and tend not to return, while the state school system is not producing enough well qualified (to third level at least) candidates from those who use it.

    Personally I feel that positive discrimination should be discussed among other possible remedies but certainly something needs to be done. When are unionists going to even admit that there is a problem over qualifications let alone suggest solutions?

  • Garibaldy


    I thought the Equality Commission and its predecessors had their origins as much in the moves to end discrimination against women in Britain and constant lobbying on that front as anything else. In fairness Alliance, WP and SDLP pushed this agenda while others were opposed to it, or regarded it as a distraction from what they saw as the real business of getting the British out

  • lib2016


    I don’t understand your post. There are plenty of good people doing the best they know and I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that Sinn Fein has a monopoly of wisdom.

    The Equality agenda applies to everyone, as it should.

  • Garibaldy


    Was just making the point that I thought the Equality Commission and its predecessors came about for numerous reasons, including developments in social thinking across the western world, and not just nationalists asking for them. The unfortunate thing is that the equality agenda was rejected by so many for so long, whether it was unionists or Gerry Adams saying that a bill of rights had no part to play in the struggle. I’m glad thinking on such issues have shifted. In that, we are reflecting developments also taking place in other countries.

  • barnshee

    all the usual claptrap trotted out if the comission cant sort this out in a predetermined time scale say 5 years shut it

  • Nevin

    [i]Bob Collins argues the EC is “frustrated” that so far efforts to deal with the imbalances have been unsuccessful.[/i]

    What efforts? Was the old fair employment body any better?

    Here are some figures for new recruits from 2001 to 2004: Protestant, Catholic, Not Determined:

    #12 – 2001: 12 – 22 – 3
    #13 – 2002: 9 – 14 – 1
    #14 – 2003: 9 – 15 – 3
    #15 – 2004: 4 – 9 – 0

    Overall composition of workforce:

    2001: 56 – 73 – 8
    2002: 60 – 76 – 6
    2003: 59 – 76 – 8
    2004: 53 – 79 – 7

    Has anyone proposed a 50/50 recruitment policy – or a representative one?

  • rapunsel


    Must be the time of night but didn’t full understand your figures. That aside and seriously– could you get us the figures for the Ulster Scots Agency?

  • willowfield

    The notion that every employer should have a workforce exactly “representative” of the religious balance of society is ridiculous and contrary to the principle of “appointment on merit”.

    If more RCs are employed than Prods that’s perfectly fine so long as they were appointed on merit. The same applies the other way around.

  • rapunsel

    Willowfield, that’s right as far as it gos but the issue also has to consider if jobs are properly adverised and attract applicants representative of the community. That might be the point here and has been the case in many instances of discrimination. An employer having sound policies and procedures in place but there being the perception and possibly the culture in the workplace of one side or another and a diverse range of people never even applying for jobs. One would have to consider that the Equality Comisiosn may have a culture that appears unattractive to protestants and men, one ould also have to consider that as has been pointed out previously on this thrad, protestants and men may be amongts that section of the population least likely to accept that sex and religious discrimination exist and therefore less likely tp seek employment in an organisation established to tackle it?

  • willowfield

    If Protestants and men are “amongst the section of the population least likely to accept that sex and religious discrimination exist and therefore less likely to seek employment in an organisation established to tackle it”, then that backs up my point that the figures do not demonstrate that the Equality Commission discriminates against either.

    Ditto, the culture.

    Hairdresser’s shops have a culture unattractive to most men and – surprise, surprise – most staff are women.

    Garages have a culture unattractive to most women and most staff are men.

    Big deal.

    I find it hard to believe that the Equality Commission would not advertise its jobs properly.

  • rapunsel

    Willowfield. I agree and wasn’t proposing that the Equality Commission didn’t advertise posts properly. Just giving an example. However thre is the issue of culture in th workplace and how this links to and is influenced by wider cultural norms. Discrimination in this scciety against women and predominantly against catholics in employment( but also protestants) is a fact. having a female culture in the Equality Commision might be less likely to repel protestants and men than the cultural attitude held by many that discrimination against women doesn’t exist or is acceptable?

  • Nevin

    Rapunsel, I can’t find figures for the Ulster-Scots Agency. Perhaps it’s too small to have to produce figures.

    The EC, as Caesar’s ‘significant other’, should lead by example. I’ve heard it alleged that the EC can make life tough for companies that find themselves in the same position as the EC. Sauce for the goose …