“motivated by religious belief..”

RTÉ report on a High Court challenge taken by three senior NI civil servants against the Assembly Commission which began today – the minutes of the Commission meeting on Jan 17th note staff concerns about possible changes to their secondment arrangements. According to the RTÉ report, lawyers for the three Catholic senior civil servants “claim[ed] a cross-party body of Stormont MLA’s, chaired by the DUP, treated them differently to a senior Protestant colleague” when they were “sent back to their original departments with salary losses of up to £14,000” following a review of the Northern Ireland Assembly Secretariat in 2007 [pdf file]. But the focus of the reported counter-argument by a lawyer for the Assembly is worth careful consideration

A lawyer for the Assembly rejected the claims of religious discrimination, saying both Sinn Féin and the SDLP had sat on the body which had removed the civil servants.

He said it was not an arguable case that nationalists and republicans had participated in a decision making process motivated by religious belief.