“…institutionalising prejudice”

NIO Minister Paul Goggins has revealed it will be 2011 before the government expects to reach the Patten target of 30% Roman Catholic membership using the discriminatory 50:50 rule. This may involve the extension of the rule for a further year. This would mean the “temporary” measure will have been in operation for 11 years. The rule was partially to address the lack of RC applicants but the latest round showed a jump in RC applicants to 41%, only a few % short of the expected community distribution. Lib Dem NI spokesperson, Lembit Opik attacked the rule as “prejudice” and the DUP’s Gregory Campbell highlighted that other areas of the public sector with similar levels of under-representation of Protestants had not led to comparable measures.Opik argued that:

“Since everybody now agrees that anti-Catholic discrimination is at an end in the police service, why do the Government insist on institutionalising prejudice in the form of positive discrimination, which has done little to allow ethnic minorities into the police?”

Campbell highlighted that:

“When will the minister concede that using quotas is wrong, given that statistically in 2007 Catholics are now more likely to become police officers than Protestants are to become housing officers in the Housing Executive? Having failed to assist Protestants in one branch of the public sector, will the minister now reintroduce the merit principle for all branches of the public sector in Northern Ireland?”