“the tribunal finds the minister’s evidence is implausible and lacks credibility” [Updated]

If you thought the controversy around NI Water and the then NI Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy, MP, MLA, had gone away, think again.  The BBC reports that an industrial  tribunal has found that Alan Lennon, a Protestant overlooked for the post of chairman of NI Water in March 2011, was discriminated against on religious grounds.  From the BBC report

In March 2011, Mr Murphy appointed a Catholic as chairman, Sean Hogan, ahead of four others shortlisted after interview, all of them Protestants.

According to the tribunal, Mr Hogan was selected because “he was not from a Protestant background and because he was known to the minister and his (then Sinn Fein) ministerial colleagues”, Michelle Gildernew and Caitriona Ruane, who were consulted about the appointment.

The BBC has seen the 26-page decision issued to those involved.

It concluded: “The tribunal is in considerable doubt as to whether the merit principle was adhered to by the minister and whether Mr Hogan was the best candidate.”

It also said Mr Murphy had added new criteria to the selection process “in order to secure Mr Hogan’s appointment”, something it viewed as a breach of the code and procedures for appointments.

The tribunal disputed Mr Murphy’s claim he was unaware of the religion of the candidates.

“In the reality of the political and religious environment in Northern Ireland, the tribunal finds the minister’s evidence is implausible and lacks credibility.”

The tribunal also said that during Mr Murphy’s time as DRD minister – between 2007-2011, there was “a material bias against the appointment of candidates from a Protestant background”.

The findings added: “The tribunal is concerned that Dr (Malcolm) McKibbin as permanent secretary with DRD and currently head of the NI Civil Service was not more aware of the situation.”

The tribunal rejected Mr Lennon’s claim there was also political discrimination, saying there was “a paucity of evidence”.

Sean Hogan had previously been appointed Chairperson Designate of the proposed Education and Skills Authority.

And whilst Conor Murphy denies “any allegation of discrimination against Alan Lennon on religious grounds”

“I stand over all of the appointments I made as the regional development minister and adhered to all the set criteria for such appointments.

“The department have six weeks to decide whether to appeal this ruling. Having read the ruling myself I would be urging the department to utilise the appeals process.”

We know that the then NI Commissioner for Public Appointments, Felicity Huston, had concerns about Minister Murphy’s appointments to the Interim NI Water Board – immediately prior to the appointment in this case.  And that she had concerns about “other public appointment competitions in DRD.”

Ms Huston told BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme her office had found an “enormous number of gaps” in the process of appointing replacements.

“We couldn’t find out how people had ended up being interviewed,” she said.

“There were missing records about submissions to ministers where advice is given to a minister on how we might proceed.

“I have to say that I have investigated other public appointment competitions in DRD and been very dissatisfied with them.”

[Just as well he’s leaving the NI Assembly, then? – Ed]  Indeed.  Whether the current Minister choses to appeal is another matter…

Adds  As the UTV report concisely notes

The Fair Employment Tribunal has now said it is satisfied that the successful candidate, Sean Hogan, was appointed as chairman of NI Water “because he was not from a Protestant background and because he was known to the Minister and his ministerial colleagues”.

Dr Lennon, a Protestant, was interviewed for the post and was deemed appointable by the selection panel, along with three other Protestant candidates and one Roman Catholic candidate.

He made the case that he believed that he had greater relevant experience than the successful candidate and further argued that the Minister Conor Murphy added new criteria to the essential criteria established at the beginning of the process, in breach of the Public Appointments Commissioner’s Code.

The Tribunal was satisfied that three factors were introduced by the Minister as additional essential criteria and that “the provisions of the Code do not, in the Tribunal’s view, permit the use of additional criteria”.

And  The Irish Times report notes

The tribunal also found that over a four-year period during 2007-2011 when Mr Murphy was in charge of the department that “there was a significant disparity” between the success rates of Protestant and Catholic applicants and “that a Catholic applicant was at least twice as likely to be appointed than a Protestant applicant”.

“The tribunal is satisfied that there was a material bias against the appointment of candidates from a Protestant background within [the department].”

Update  Via the Equality Commission for NI press release, the full Fair Employment Tribunal decision is here [1.93mb pdf file].

And the latest BBC report includes Felicity Huston’s response to Conor Murphy’s invoking of her audit of the appointment.

Earlier, the former minister said his decision had been audited and approved by the appointments commissioner.

However, former commissioner Felicity Houston said: “We did audit the process, but it now transpires having read the report of the case that we weren’t shown all the information, all the paperwork that went with that particular competition

“If we had I think I would have had a very different view of what was going on.”

She added: “The permanent secretary, Malcolm McKibben, the minister and other senior officials met as they do frequently, but the minister was given the names of these five candidates prior to getting his detailed submission.

“That meant he knew who they were several days before he got the detailed papers that explained who they were, what they did and their experience, and that’s a serious flaw, that should not happen.”

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  • Lionel Hutz

    You should get the names before you get the summary on their competencies. Just five names, and then ask your friends if he is the right sort and then pick. The find some way of justifying it by adding new criteria. That’s what Murphy did

  • Rory Carr

    No, Lionel, that is not what Murphy did. That is what you, out of your own prejudice, say he did. I, out of mine, say he picked the right man for the job based upon the candidates’ competencies.and experience.

    The Equality Commission and I therefore are at odds but that does not mean that their conclusions are in agreement with yours for they most certainly are not.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Oh, so you performed an in-depth investigation in parallel with the equality commission rory? Now, that is impressive! You should get yourself on newsnight and sort this out…

    In typical SF fashion, their arses are being covered:
    – Get conor out of office – done
    – refute everything – done
    – announce ‘big news’ story day after accused of systematic discrimination – done
    – never mention this again – ongoing….

    I wonder if the likes of Panorama will do an investigation or is this all to swept under the carpet?

  • Rory Carr

    I shouldn’t be too eager to rely upon any investigation that Panorama might do if you have watched any of its woeful, redtop influenced grotesqueries it has produced since its demotion to the doldrom hours when only old drunks and tinfoil merchants are likely to catch it. (And, “Yes,” I;m quite happy to accept the inevitable gauche retort that this observation will surely bring from those with limited reserves of sharp humour.)

  • PeterBrown


    Having not answered my questions I assume you cannot – and if I was you I wouldn’t get in too much popcorn.

    There will be no appeal against this decision because it has no merit and the last thing Conor or SF wants is to go through this scrutiny again after an unsuccessful appeal with no royal visit to distract everyone

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    grotesqueries??? I can’t even be bothered to google if that’s a word. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt – very impressive. You nicely sidestepped my main point when I went in to slide-tackle you.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Good point Peter Brown – I was meant to add that to my SF action list.

    – Demand an urgent appeal and then gently let it slip…. either that are suggest you might ‘sue’ for deformation of character….

    But surely if there was widespread discrimination in that department they just can’t let it lie? In addition, Danny Kennedy is commander and chief so could he keep the fires stoked? Or maybe he needs to keep his new mates happy?

    Ulster Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt, said: “I am in no doubt whatsoever that a ruling is needed over whether Conor Murphy’s sectarian decision broke the MLAs code of conduct, which calls for equality and objectivity, and also breached the ministerial code, which demands impartiality, integrity and objectivity.”

    The DUP’s Gregory Campbell said that it was a “damning indictment of religious discrimination by a Sinn Fein minister”.

    He said: “The tribunal also raises serious questions for Mr Hogan. It is clear that the appointment was not made on the basis of merit. Given this unethical appointment, Mr Hogan should consider his position.”

    TUV leader Jim Allister, who has tabled a series of Assembly questions about other Sinn Fein appointments, said that the tribunal had exposed Mr Murphy as “a brazen practitioner of sectarian discrimination and Sinn Fein once again have been shown to be unfit for government”.

    And SDLP MLA John Dallat called for an independent inquiry into all appointments and dismissals.

  • Lionel Hutz

    BBC reports

    However, former commissioner Felicity Houston said: “We did audit the process, but it now transpires having read the report of the case that we weren’t shown all the information, all the paperwork that went with that particular competition

    “If we had I think I would have had a very different view of what was going on.”

    She added: “The permanent secretary, Malcolm McKibben, the minister and other senior officials met as they do frequently, but the minister was given the names of these five candidates prior to getting his detailed submission.

    “That meant he knew who they were several days before he got the detailed papers that explained who they were, what they did and their experience, and that’s a serious flaw, that should not happen.”

    Is she lying Rory??????

    At Paragraph (iii), the Tribunal decides:

    “In any event, the Panel’s consensus summary did not form part of the submission that went to the Minister.”

    And at Paragraph (xiii) and (xiv), it is clear that the Minister was told the name of Sean Hogan and at least one other candidate on the 14th March 2011 before he received the submission from the panel.

    He has been found to have added new criteria to secure the appointment of his chosen man, who happens to be the only catholic of the five candidates.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I doubt it will end here either. There will have to be an investigation into the systemic discrimination. Ofcourse Conor Murphy wont appeal – he doesn’t have the power to and Sinn Fein will claim that if they had the power, they would appeal but that evil Unionist Kennedy is blocking justice. Or something like that

  • lamhdearg2

    There are some voices missing from this thread, Middle of the road voices, if you get the drift.
    How about that Lionel!.

  • Rory Carr

    gro·tes·que·ry also gro·tes·que·rie (gr-tsk-r)
    n. pl. gro·tes·que·ries
    1. The state of being grotesque; grotesqueness.
    2. Something grotesque.

    (Source; The Free Dictionary)

    Pity the slide-tackle did not come off, the future’s bright, the future’s orange.

  • Mick Fealty


    He did well enough Rory. The ball, in case you hadn’t noticed, is no longer at your feet? And, case you’d forgotten, here’s what we were actually talking about:

    According to the tribunal, Mr Hogan was selected because “he was not from a Protestant background and because he was known to the minister and his (then Sinn Fein) ministerial colleagues”, Michelle Gildernew and Caitriona Ruane, who were consulted about the appointment.

    Is Danny Kennedy really going to fight a case where his predecessor has been blatantly discriminated against Protestants?

    Well given the minister managed to draw the current head of the NI Civil Service into this mess Danny may have his work cut out.

    But what would the case for any such appeal be? The minister could not trust some he did not already know? Sounds a bit Stormont 1966. “Was it for this etc, etc, etc…”

    And why, good republican (and I don’t mean that ironically) that you are, does this not matter to you? However you look at it, it looks poor on the record of the party of “An Ireland of Equals”.

    My own suspicion is that discrimination against Protestants was never the point of the exercise, but it was, nevertheless, the corollary.

    It came on foot of a very rash set of actions the minister undertook regarding the former board, the full consequences of which have yet to fully unwind..

    To add a limited mea culpa, BelfastJJ was on to this pretty directly at the time. And at the time I think I was quite dismissive. Turns out he was right.

    I suspect I was a little defensive since we were wading pretty deeply at the time against the interests of a number of powerful and wealthy individuals and was wary of assuming anything ahead of due process.

  • “My own suspicion is that discrimination against Protestants was never the point of the exercise”

    You can discriminate in favour of as well as against. As I recall, BelfastJJ wasn’t the only one to detect the way the wind might be blowing; the Minister had been in post from 2007 so there were plenty of clues from his actions and those of his officials as to where to look for the evidence. The watchdogs failed to bark on occasions when there were gaps in the audit trail as well as when the evidence was delivered on a plate.

    Unfortunately, journalists and bloggers aren’t the only folks who need to wade carefully in the presence of powerful and wealthy individuals or organisations; Ministers and departments find themselves in the same position.

  • cynic2


    I am afraid your man playing just reflects your desperation to protect SF at any cost. If you bother to read back you will see that I am even handed – look at my comments on the uup this week for example.

    I know that it’s shocking but I believe in evaluating what I find and not acting like a donkey wrapped in a flag

    As for my criticism os SF – well they do offer such a deep well of opportunity don’t they from racist discrimination against Protestant job applicants to making a mess of NIW to this weeks expenses allegations in the Dail. My cup runneth over.

    As for saying something positive I welcome Martys handshake with Liz next week. A sound move – but I still think its such a pity it took 250 PIRA murders to get him there

  • cynic2

    Sorry 2500 murders!

  • Rory Carr

    However good a Republican I may or may not be, Mick (whatever such a concept may mean), my concern that the Commission’s verdict ‘ looks poor on the record of the party of “An Ireland of Equals” ‘ is is driven not by an acceptance f the idea that Lennon was refused the appointment, not because Hogan was the better candidate, but because Lennon was a Protestant. Further, I suspect that neither do you accept such patent nonsense either.

    Moreover it is clear that we yet have a long way to go to reach this “Ireland of equals” when the appointment of a few young meritorious indiviaduals who happen to be Catholic are awarded appointments to a civil service department the cry goes up that “themmuns are floodin’ the place !”

    What is saddening (though hardly unexpected really) is to see those cheerleaders of old unionism, those Ulster equivalent of good ol’ boys who just cannot accept that the GFA was ” the night they drove ol’ Dixie down” and it ain’t comin’ back, being joined by resentful SDLP supporters, embittered by their failure to cling onto the poltical leadership of nationalism that in their lace-curtain arrogance they assumed was their birthright. They may cheer now, but the electorate will remember the issue at which they chose to side with unionist revanchanism over the employment of Catholics.


    “Moreover it is clear that we yet have a long way to go to reach this “Ireland of equals” when the appointment of a few young meritorious indiviaduals who happen to be Catholic are awarded appointments to a civil service department the cry goes up that “themmuns are floodin’ the place !

    Can you clarify which specific civil service Department (or Departments) you are referring to here? And how recently you have heard this cry go up?

  • Granni Trixie

    From my first job onwards I witnessed discrimination against Catholics first hand.. bob Cooper, my hero, was a Protestant who named it for what it was and worked to change the system through law. I never wanted a changed system to discriminate against Protestants or anybody,just a level playing field. surely that is what the CRM was all about too?

  • cynic2

    ” the electorate will remember the issue at which they chose to side with unionist revanchanism over the employment of Catholics”


    To summarise then

    “They may be corrupt incompetent and racist but they are ours so that makes it OK and don’t you criticise them”

    I also note that you seem more concerned at the damage to to image of Republicanism caused by being caught out than by the racist discrimination itself.

    What a low opinion you have of the ethics of Nationalist voters.As a Unionist with many friends across all shades of green political opinion I simply don’t share that view Perhaps they are just not as racist as you think.

    Still, I hope your flag keeps you warm in the chill winds of political reality

  • “surely that is what the CRM was all about too?”

    Granni Trixi, Nationalists desire a UI, not better conditions within the UK ie they are not APNI or Liberal Unionist folks.

    It’s already been well established that those who initiated NICRA used rights issues as a smokescreen. Had there been a drop of sincerity in their campaign they would have highlighted discrimination by all who were in a position to do so, irrespective of class, creed or political affiliation.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Appealing against an employment tribunal judgment


    “You may only appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on a point of law.

    Broadly, a point of law is one which concerns the interpretation of the legislation and its application to the facts of the case.

    Where the employment tribunal has made findings of fact based on the evidence it has read or heard, eg where the tribunal sets out what they believed actually happened, or why someone acted as they did, you cannot challenge this – even if you think that the tribunal was wrong to make those findings.”

    It may well be the case that Mr Hogan was the most suitable candidate, but clearly straying from the correct procedure will allow for enough doubt to creep in. To have unranked pass/fail (and I’ve seen that tripe before in DRD) to allow “flexibility”, again gives rise to a perception of (at the very least) cronyism.
    Difficult to bring a discrimination case on that though…

    It would have hardly helped the Minister’s public profile should such a conflict of interest be admitted to. This was why it was important for Messrs Hogan and Murphy to establish to the tribunal that they had never even met.

    Unfortunately for them, the tribunal did not find that credible.

  • Rory Carr

    Cynic 2,

    Whatever is this “racist” nonsense that you insistently witter on about? Is While you and I may be from different planets I very much doubt that Dr Lennon is from a different race than Mr Murphy.

    I have no concern “at the damage to to image of Republicanism caused by being caught out” as, as I have already said, that I do not accept for one moment that Lennon failed to secure the appointment because he was a Protestant and I reject absolutely the Commission’s finding that such was the case. Indeed if I have any concerns in this matter it is over the machinations within the Equality Commission that they could possibly have reached such a perverse conclusion.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Um Rory it was the Fair Employment Tribunal that found that religious discrimination took place.

  • Rory Carr


    Bloody drafts keep being posted while I am yet in the process of writing and editing it. Please therefore forgive any misspellings or poor punctuation etc.

    I do not of course expect any forgiveness for my stated opinions though I would ask that I not be labelled with opinions to which I have not laid signature. Presumption after all is sister to prejudice.

  • Rory Carr


    Thank you Pigeon Toes. I stand corrected.

  • Dallat Calls For Inquiry Into All NIW Appointments And Dismissals

    Mr Dallat said: “The finding of this Industrial Tribunal is disturbing and by necessity will have serious repercussions beyond this one incident.

    “It is now essential that an independent inquiry is held into all appointments and dismissals by NIW while Conor Murphy was Minister. I believe such an inquiry would allow a probe into other appointments which merit such a measure.

    John is also concerned that ‘in the last three years alone NIW has spent £4.8m on legal fees’.

  • cynic2


    We can actually agree here – to some extent.

    FDirst, I am sorry but the SF position is that the Irish are a distinct Racial Group separate from us Prods who are half Scottish. Hence all the focus on issues like Irish Culture and a Gaeltacht on the Falls Road where quite a few locals (just like their Protestant brethren over the fence) have problems with basic English.

    Their ideology is therefore fundamentally a racist one built on the myth of prior inheritance rights by a local racially distinct population who was robbed by the wicked English and Protestant usurpers

    The reality is that the whole racial basis of this is all tripe. The genetic record shows we are virtually indistinguishable and there’s as much or more difference between Northern Ireland and Dublin Residents (bit more Scottish / more Norman) than there is any difference between NI Prods and Catholics. We have all been sleeping together for far too long.

    Some of the loony fringe Prods take a similar view with all the Ulster Scots clap trap.

    Now no-one likes to mention that this is actually racism dressed up. That would never do in polite NI political society and that’s why calling it what it is immediately raises hackles

    At heart all of this is racially based – its a racist agenda that wants to make us see ourselves as separate peoples because that fits with the snake oil politics our Political Masters are trying to sell us so they can continue to enjoy the benefits of the Stormont Trough

  • cynic2

    “I do not accept for one moment that Lennon failed to secure the appointment because he was a Protestant”

    …. yes we know….irrespective of the evidence and the courts findings

    ” I reject absolutely the Commission’s finding that such was the case”

    …. yes we know….irrespective of the evidence and the courts findings

    “Indeed if I have any concerns in this matter it is over the machinations within the Equality Commission that they could possibly have reached such a perverse conclusion.”

    Errr………..the Tribunals are a Judicial Body. They have no connection at all with the Equality Commission which was set up after the Anglo Irish Agreement to promote equality and monitor progress.

    The Equality Commission you criticise is also one of the Public Bodies in NI with the worst % of Protestants in its work force, is seen by Unionists as not somewhere they might want to work and has markedly failed to show success in its own action plans to address this imbalance

    Clear evidence of bias there then!

  • Rory Carr

    No, Cynic 2, on your assertion that racism was at aly in the selection process or that somehow Republicans regard protestant unionists as a different race we most certainly do not agree here – to any extent no matter how infitesimal.

    I do not know where you got all this race nonsense from or whether you are projecting onto Republicans some of the wilder, cruder fantasies of disturbed far-right middle class loyalists and their lumpen followers. But whatever the source you would be well advised, I would suggest, in order to avoid looking foolish to drop it like a hot potato.

  • Rory Carr

    Typo In first line above that should read “..that .racism was at play in the selection process…”

    Raspberry jam on the “p” button was the cause. Niiice !!

  • cynic2

    My Rory you are annoyed. Haven’t seen a threat like that on here for some time.

  • cynic2

    But tell you what …to protect your blood pressure I will withdraw from this debate. It wasn’t racism. It was mere religious discrimination (just as the Tribunal found)

    Ps When you get desperate perhaps you can try the line ‘the securocrats made us do it’ – that always goes down well with the faithful and means you still wont have to think about the real issues implicit in all this

  • Rory Carr

    Threat, Cynic ? Where on earth did you get that from ? I made no threat. I never make threats. There can be no possible way to imply anything threatening in my response to your posts and it really is quite naughty of you to pretend that there was.

    Therefore, before you retire from the field (having accepted, I am glad to note, that any question of racism was bloody nonsense) you might wish to consider apologising for that accusation.

  • Lionel Hutz


    Your responses to this debate have amounted to pure man-playing. In your indignant fury, you blamed right wing unionistmiddle class spin, jealous bitter and prejudiced Sdlp supporters, a biased Equality Commission.

    Oh and sdlp should just row in behind the Sinn Fein, otherwise the electorate will remember what side they backed. Because it’s all a political agenda I’m sure.

    Never mind the evidence. Just shoot the messenger and you have been unable to deal with any facts in this case.

    Cases like this are unlikely to have a smoking gun. It’s built firstly by enough evidence from which one can conclude in the absence of a satisfactory explanation that there was discrimination. The fact that Protestants were so less likely to get a job than catholics. The fact that of the five acceptable candidates, the only candidate which Mr Murphy took sounding on was the only catholic. The fact that Mr Murphy effectively raised a hurdle by adding three new criteria that meant that the catholic would get the job.

    No smoking gun, but in the absence of an adequate explanation for these actions, you could reasonably conclude that there was discrimination. The burden was on the department and Mr Murphy to provide that explanation. His evidence lacked credibility. He didn’t have an explanation.

  • PeterBrown

    Assuming we can agree racism is

    1.The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as…
    2.Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief

    surely discrimination is inevitably a form of racism Rory (ignoring the fact that Nelson-like you are putting the telescope to your blind eye to be unable to find this discrimination as located by both the Equality Commission and Industrial Tribunal, sorry I can’t think of a suitable analogy involving a Republican)?

  • PeterBrown

    One can’t help but be reminded of Father Ted and that money “just resting” in his account with the tone and (lack of) substance of these denials…

  • cynic2


    Of course i am sure that “you woul be well advised” was meant as just a friendly piece of advice

    One thing puzzles me though, why do you think that mere discrimination against Protestants is so much less worthy of opprobium than racial discrimination? You might wish to reflect on that.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Discrimination and Prejudice are outworkings of whatever “ism” you may have. I would never consider the PRM as racist. I don’t believe the Republican movement see Unionists and Protestants as another race – but as another section within the one race. There is therefore alot of sectarianism.

    But whether it’s sectarianism or racism you want to call it, the important thing is that it’s wrong and a serious own goal.

    As an Irishmen, I believe our greatest chance of achieving a United Ireland is to show that we can govern in a fairer and more equal way. Sinn Fein have the great opportunity as the biggest nationalist party. I think that whatever the parties in the Republic have done wrong, they have been successful in showing that they would be fair to unionists and the British people on this Island over the last few decades. Alot has been achieved but the single biggest opportunity lies with Sinn Fein with the power they have here. That’s why it annoys me so much when they get up to this carry on.

    The Unionist parties are brazen about it – they are singularly concerned with their own tribe. But they don’t have to convince anyone. It’s the nationalist parties that have that task. The Sdlp are okay at it but always have this need to try to out-green Sinn Fein every now and then and so long as they are so small, it doesn’t really matter what they do.

  • Rory Carr

    I said in response to Cynic 2’s insistence that Lennon’s failure to be selected was as a result of racism that he would be well advissed to drop such a ridiculous charge in order that he be not be seen to make a fool of himself. He firstly pretended that he felt threatened by this advice and when I pointed out how ridiculous that was he now responds as above with sly innuendo colouring a crafty misuse of my words and of course failing completely to mention any part of my concern that he was making a fool of himself.

    Initially I took his misreading to be just that coupled with a touch of paranoia, but it is now clear that it was in fact a malicious attempt to paint me as a thug as his crude argument on racism became exposed for what it was.

    He now really does need to apologise.

    Peter Brown asks me to accept that, “surely discrimination is inevitably a form of racism?”

    I am sorry, Peter, but I cannot accept that. I can accept that racism is a form of discrimination of course. If Socrates is a man and all men can be said to be mortal it does not follow that all men are Socrates, only that Socrates is mortal.

    Now on top of the nasty little charge of uttering a threat Lionel Hutz informs me, “Your responses to this debate have amounted to pure man-playing..”

    Which, given that Lionel then failed to find a single instance of said man playing I might well be justified in responding,

    “Lionel, your responses to my arguments in this debate have amounted to pure fiction.”

    But I won’t. He is merely mistaken. Could happen to the Bishop.

  • cynic2


    Yet more man playing and no answer.

  • cynic2

    But really there is a limit on this and you have repeatedly crossed it on this set of posts. I am very thick skinned but am unsure if this is genuine or just a tactic to divert the issue away from what has gone on in DRD and, no doubt, other Departments.

    Strangely the blatant man playing, and not just on me, has gone unremarked by the Mods. Still, the reality here is simple. The ex Minister has been exposed. I am sure the foi requests will flood in and others will follow. Good.

    But I am just bored and sick of the nonsense on here. Good luck in your desperation. I won’t be back. Another Prod purged.

  • Granni Trixie

    cynic2:As David Soul said”don’t give up on us baby” ..this is ridiculous.

  • Lionel Hutz

    This is funny. Anyway its already old news. It’ll be hidden behind the Queens handshake. As long as McGuinness goes to the odd Norn Iron Match, our history junkie press will claim that our peacemakers are making great strides. Meanwhile, the people are losing faith in the whole house of cards

  • lamhdearg2

    “Anyway its already old news” maybe for how and for the msm, however from now on, any ref (by Irish nats) to anti R.C. discrimination can be countered with a two word answer, Conor Murphy.

  • Lionel Hutz


    To what end. It’s alright if that happened to catholics then, look at what Conor Murphy got up to

  • lamhdearg2

    No just, glass houses, pot calling pan, he who is without sin, that sort of thing.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Surely that pales into insignificance when compared to some of their past deeds…….

  • lamhdearg2

    Yes I suppose you could say that, not giving someone a job because they are a protestant, is better than killing them for being a protestant, so compared to their past deeds,yes.
    However not to be deflected, I will stick to conors latest misdemeanors

  • Lionel Hutz

    Okay, so will I. And many other nationalists, including some of our politicians. That really is the difference…

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    I’m finding it hard how some folk on here find this verdict so hard to believe, As Lambeg has said, Conor is part of an organisation which went around largely indiscriminately murdering prods, but why not would they not seek to remove them and keep them out of posts of importance.

  • Mick Fealty


    You are usually very thick skinned, sometimes a little too much so. If you were to stick to what you can actually prove, rather than what you believe, you might not now be withdrawing from the pitch!

    f you want someone to look at a certain thread, ping me an email… the reporting system is not great… You can even have my mobile if you really want me to get down on it quickly.

    But the best way to deal with a troll is to refuse to feed it! YOU should not need a Mod to tell you that!!!


    You really do take dissembling to an art form old chap. Re the ‘good republican’, well, you know that bit in the Proclamation where it says “”all the children of the nation equally”. There’s not another bit that says “except them Orange B’s in the North”.

    Most of your postings on this thread are based on meaningless abstractions which you can neither prove real nor reliably extrapolate from… and you’ve been indulged by a whole bunch of commenters who should have known better and given it/you a wide berth.

    Abstraction (particularly with such studious inattention to facts) nearly always serves to obfuscate, obstruct well mannered conversations and alienate people further from your view of the matter.

    In another very different context, Carlo Rotella on bad academic writing for the general public:

    There’s a misapprehension when scholars write for general audiences, and it goes like this: You take the kernel of your scholarly knowledge and wrap it into a piece of baloney of narrative and character. It’s like feeding a pill to your dog by wrapping it in a piece of meat. It’s exactly wrong.

    “The better way is showing how messy, three-dimensional characters live the consequences of a bigger argument.

    “That gives the reader a sensory experience, and as an author you are undertaking a project of persuasion to convince the reader that the contours of the larger thing are evident in the way someone boxes, or the way someone makes music.

    Now tell me why we have such institutions as the Equality Commission? And why you think it is acceptable to ignore its findings when it doesn’t suit a given political purpose?

    Oh, and BTW, keep up with the abstraction/obstruction thing, and this goes to cards!

  • A searchable version of the FET report is available online – I searched with 2012 and lennon. I was expecting a DOC file but it was an ASPX one – so I renamed it DOC.

    You’d think our public and other servants would make their information more user friendly. I once transformed a £55,000 100-plus page DRD report into searchable form and didn’t even get a note of appreciation 🙂

  • Rory Carr

    My refusal to acceot the conclusion of the tribunal is not an abstraction, Mick. It is a fact – I do not accept that Lennon was denied the post because he was a Protestant.

    The tribunal concludes that he was and I of course accept that that was their verdict but I do not have to accept that the verdict in this instance was a good one and I do not.

    You ask me to stick to what I can prove. Well I cannot prove anything, not even my belief that the tribunal got it wrong, I can only affirm that belief. But then the tribunal cannot prove either that it got it right, it too can only affirm. The tribunal’s affirmation of course will inevitably carry greater weight than mine but it does not invalidate it. The tribunal may well have found irregularities in the selection procedure that they concluded militated in favour of Hogan’s recruitment and therefore against all of the other candidates including Lennon, but as it was Lennon who brought the case they could only find that this procedure discriminated against him. And I have no argument with such a finding. I have no basis on which to make any such argument. I do not know enough about the mechanisms of the recruitment procedure within the department to begin to challenge that finding.

    What I do challenge however, what I have challenged, is the conclusion which the tribunal came to that such irregularity, because it discriminated against Lennon and because Lennon was Protestant and because Hogan was Catholic. must therfore constitute discrimination on the basis of their relative religious backgrounds – that Lennon was denied because he was a Protestant.

    In so finding the members of the tribunal had to rely upon their own instincts, their own prejudices just as I rely upon mine, for they have nothing else with which to determine such a conclusion. They have no evidence of any discussion couched in the language of religious sectarianism, no notes to indicate same. no evidence of any shared membership of a sectarian organisation or secret society between the minister and the successful candidate.

    All they had is what I have – a belief. In their case a belief that it all amounted to religious discrimination, that Hogan was given the post because he was Catholic and Lennon refused it because he was Protestant. When we look at it like that in all its starkness, when we consider the Minister’s pressing need to “get it right” given the department’s recent history does it not strike us that such a conclusion simply does not make sense. Murphy desperately needed the best man for the job from whatever religious background or none. If he concluded as he did that Hogan was that man it ought not count against that appointment that Hogan was Catholic. Because really that is what is at odds here – not that Lennon was denied because he was Protestant, after all there were three other candidates, all Protestant who were denied, but rather that Hogan was Catholic.

    That irregularities in the selection procedure now threaten to undermine the credibility of Hogan then that is upon Murphy’s shoulders, he ought to have rigourously followed procedure and he ought to have known better that not to. That a good capable man might be pillioried because of an over-zealousness in the procedure employed and that he might find himself obliged to surrender his post because of all the brouhaha is much to be regretted and Murphy must take the blame for that.. But to add to that the stigma that it was not his ability but religious discrimination that won him the office in the first place is just short of criminal.

    p.s. I may be criticised for writing badly but not for” bad academic writing”. It is not an academic subject, It is a public controversy and so I was writing polemically, even if it was badly.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Perhaps for the sake of clarity Con Murphy, and fellow travellers, should tell us if they have retreated to their comfort zone and refused to recognise the court?

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    ‘The tribunal’s affirmation of course will inevitably carry greater weight than mine’

    the understatement of the century lol. Rory my dear friend. You clearly have no interest in any body or person that may dare criticise those upstanding, romantics that are SF. Of course, you may have your opinion, but you seem to be implying that everyone else is an idiot for not agreeing with your insanity, sorry, I mean opinion :).

  • Alias

    They may as well when their appeal consists of no argument more compelling than “The verdict was wrong because I say so. Now let’s have the right verdict this time.”

    Also, I hope Cynic2 doesn’t ‘retire’ from Slugger even if the unrelenting vacuous verbosity (above) would drive any sane man to a calmer place…

  • Lionel Hutz


    Can you atleast accept that the Tribunal’s decision has been reached with reference to full consideration of the facts, through both written and oral evidence, and to tell law in respect of discrimination and the burden of proof regulations? Can you accept that it’s findings are not to be dismissed lightly?

    I will lay it out for you again. There is no single smoking gun – no record of a conversation that Murphy said “I’m gonna pick the catholic”. However, there are massive irregularities. Firstly, he requested an unranked list of acceptable candidates. So he did not have knowledge of who was the best candidate as he didn’t sit on the interview panel. He has, like it or not, decided to take advice onthe one catholic of the five, and only him. He did this before he had the interview panels agreed consensus summary. He then appears added new criteria which would operate to ensure this one catholic candidate got the job. No smoking gun. But this has occurred against a backdrop of catholic candidates being at least twice as likely to be appointed than Protestants. That is enough for there to be a case to answer. A reasonable explanation is required to explain these irregular actions which amounted to a breach of the code of practice for public appointments.

    The burden of proof flips to DRD at that stage. The Tribunals found the evidence of the Minister to be incredible. Bear in mind that the Tribunal had the benefit of hearing oral evidence from both the Minister and Hogan, tojudge there demeanor and soon. I suggest you read paragraph (xix) of the decision. Murphy shifted from his witness statement and lost credibility. He was inconsistent and the Tribunal found that this was because of a reluctance to appear at odds with Sean Hogan’s evidence. Even ifyou believe that Conor Murphy had never met Mr Hogan (despite approving his appointment to two other posts) and didn’t know his religion, he still failed to provide a credible reason for his actions.

    What was the reason? Why did he do it? In the absence of an explanation, it is reasonable to conclude that it was discrimination.

    If we didn’t have these rules, where inferences can be drawn, we would never expose discrimination. It’s often subtle. I can tell you, if you wish to believe me, that from experience, it’s very difficult to win discrimination case like this or at all. Fair Employment tribunals (which deal exclusively with religious/political discrimination) very rarely find in favor of Claimants. That this claim was successful, makes it very credible in my eyes

  • lamhdearg2

    ditto what he said (Lionel). If you could put some meat on your arguement Rory get a more considerate hearing, gut feeling will not cut it.

  • Pigeon Toes

    ” Mr Murphy asked the Minister of Justice what protection and rights are offered to whistle-blowers within the criminal justice system. (AQO 2230/11-15)

    Mr Ford: I can confirm that the criminal justice agencies comply with the Public Interest Disclosure (Northern Ireland) Order 1998. Protections for whistle-blowers are in place as required under that legislation, which ensures that employees making protected disclosures in good faith in the circumstances described in the legislation are protected against dismissal and other detriment.

    Criminal justice agencies have internal arrangements for raising issues of concern, and I strongly encourage members of staff to use those when any such issues arise. However, the legislation also allows for protected disclosure in some circumstances to an external body.

    Mr Murphy: I thank the Minister for his answer and welcome his encouragement to staff. He will be aware that the former chief executive of the Office of the Police Ombudsman resigned in order to blow the whistle on interference in that office. We now find that senior PSNI members have tried to discourage trade union representatives from blowing the whistle on the policy of rehiring police officers, sometimes within days of their retirement.

    Mr Deputy Speaker: Will the Member ask a question, please?

    Mr Murphy: In light of the Minister’s earlier answer, does he have any comment to make on that?

    Mr Ford: I thank Mr Murphy for that point. In the context of the 1998 order, he needs to be careful as to how exactly he defines “whistle-blowing”. Where individuals have sought to raise matters outside the established structures, I am not sure that they necessarily qualify as whistle-blowers, and some of the wider points that the Member makes seem to be more about policy matters than whistle-blowing

    Probably about the same as DRD, and given the way they can be treated it’s little wonder…. Still it’s heart warming that Mr Murphy has such a sense of concern, now that he doesn’t have a ministry and has resigned his seat. For Mr Ford’s info as well going outside “the established structures” does count….

  • “the tribunal finds the minister’s evidence is implausible and lacks credibility”

    The tribunal, it seems, has made its findings IMO on the basis of a significant evidence shortfall and, by doing so, has weakened its own credibility:

    92. The Claimant invites the Tribunal to note that the Respondent has not sought to provide evidence from a number of witnesses who are plainly material to the issues in this claim. The Respondent could have sought to adduce evidence from former Minister Ruane, former Minister Gildernew and the Special Political Adviser, Mr McGlade. All of these individuals were involved in the critical period when the decision to appoint Mr Hogan was made, yet none of them have provided a witness statement. It is notable that no such evidence was adduced even after the Claimant pointed out this obvious evidential deficiency.

    This is not the first time that the SpAd’s name appears in a DRD-NIW appointments process [eg selection of NIW NEDs]; he is obviously an important link in the communication chain between the Minister and his officials. This is also not the first time that a tribunal or a team of investigators failed or was reluctant to seek evidence from key participants.

  • PaulT

    I can’t help but think that Lennon is only slightly less unhappy with the outcome than Murphy, all he really wanted was to prove that he was denied the job because of his religion, and although he got his wish, he has now ended up as a posterboy for unionism.

    The media blackout is interesting, no more details, no follow on interviews with other Protestants who didn’t get jobs there, no political involvment of any note.

    Few tense weeks coming up, will Hogan launch legal action, will anyone unsuccessful or indeed successful in getting a job at DRD in the last four years launch legal action.

    How will the current minister react, does he defend his department, interview panel, HR dept etc, or throw them to the wolves.

    What will the judgement be on the compo package. I think everyone (incl. Lennon) will favour a large cheque and a recommendation of no further action necessary.

    But, Lennon, is the one who will continue to carry the baggage of all this for the future, AFAIK his income is largely directorships of quangos and chair of Wrightbus, would it be fair to say that this case and the critiscism of his Policing Board contract will leave a few HR managers nervous when next his CV arrives for a directorship on a quango.

    I think Lennon would readily admit it’s been a hard few years for him, I don’t think presenting yourself as an agent for change is helped by being the chairman of Wrights, through no fault of his (he’s relatively new there) it has struggled to bring itself in line with todays expectations of work environments. And although it is all declared and above board his 30% share and directorship of a company which has benefited from InvestNI where he is also a director may not sit comfortably with the man in the street.

    Nevin, if you’re looking for unusual happenings, I’d suggest trying to work out why a civil servant at the NIO, a financial accounting officer took a sudden and rushed interest in the religous breakdown of North Belfast NIHE employees and released the figures to the media just before this tribunal ended, the HIHE is very Catholic btw, shortly after the publication a NIHE employee’s car was burnt out, with the 12th approaching I’m sure NIW employees will now be extra vigilant!!

    All in all interesting times

  • Lionel Hutz


    FYI, an industrial tribunal operates more like a civil court than a “Tribunal of Enquiry” such as Saville. In the latter, the Tribunal will call its own witnesses and papers in order to meet its terms of reference – it is not an adversarial court.

    The Industrial Tribunal is an adversarial court and the Tribunal decides on the balance of probabilities. So it can be right to draw inferences from the failings in the presentation of a case.

    It doesn’t undermine its credibility one bit. That’s like saying that the Crown Court’s verdict of murder lacked credibility because the defendant failed to give evidence.

  • “Nevin, if you’re looking for unusual happenings”

    Thanks for the h/t, PaulT. Sadly, I’m getting buried in unusual happenings up on the North Coast!

    It’s very sad when decent folks going about their legitimate business to support their families become ‘legitimate targets’ – often attacked by folks who make no positive contribution to a better society.

  • “It doesn’t undermine its credibility one bit.”

    Thanks for the info, Lionel, but it undermines it in my eyes. What value is there in arbitrary judgements? I’ve had the opportunity to observe an ‘independent’ inquiry operate at just above the level of farce, sustained there merely by the determination of relatively ordinary folks.

  • Lionel Hutz

    That’s okay, but if there is a case to answer and the Respondent fails to answer it, then it is right for an inference to be drawn. They would have been advised on the consequences of that still chose not to. That is vastly different from say the British Government refusing to cooperate fully with the Smithwick Tribunal. An Industrial Tribunal isn’t an inquiry. It’s a court