New Sinn Féin MLA Director of Group that Discriminated against Job Applicant because of his Political Opinion

The Irish News today highlights details of the newly-appointed Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Karen Mullan’s relevant experience for the job, mentioned in Eamonn McCann’s excellent post on the case, that illuminates David’s, somewhat limited, subsequent description of her as a “community worker in the city of Derry”. Karen Mullan is a director of Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership (WNP) Ltd., Sinn Féin and the DUP’s preferred delivery mechanism for community services and funding in the area, who, earlier this year, were ordered to … Read more

Ashers verdict: ‘To do otherwise would be to allow a religious belief to dictate what the law is’

The County Court in Belfast has ruled that Ashers Baking Company and its directors discriminated against a gay customer, Gareth Lee, by refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan. The judgment was a resounding vindication of the Equality Commission (response here), which backed Mr Lee’s case. It became the latest in a long list of unsuccessful legal actions against LGBT rights taken or supported by lobby group, the Christian Institute (response here). The case centred on the refusal … Read more

Legal implications if the Equality Commission wins gay cake case

The Belfast Telegraph have another article on the long running gay cake saga. They have obtained the legal opinion procured by the Christian Institute (as indeed have the Daily Telegraph) from a leading human rights barrister: Martix Chambers’ Aidan O’Neill QC. From the Daily Telegraph: Mr O’Neill argued that the Commission’s case ignores human rights protections and said the bakery’s case was based on the same principles as Sir Thomas More’s refusal recognise Henry VIII to be the Supreme Head … Read more

SF’s latest “Trojan Horse of Equality” spotted in Mid Ulster…

Here’s Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGuigan explaining his party’s decision in the new Mid Ulster supercouncil to ban the sale of the poppy on council premises: “We wanted to create an environment of equality and neutrality in council-owned facilities.  This interim arrangement will cover the sale and display of all symbols, including poppies and Easter Lilies, at all council buildings. This is part of Sinn Féin’s ongoing commitment to equality.” Elsewhere, of course, Sinn Fein is firmly committed to its other policy of … Read more

Gay cake row: best before 27th February

The infamous gay cake row now has a date for the court case. The legal case between the tax payer funded Quango, the Equality Commission, and Ashers Bakery is set for 26th and 27th February. The charity lobby group the Christian Institute is supporting Ashers and is to hold fundraising events in Belfast, Coleraine, Newry and the Clogher Valley. Meanwhile the Rainbow Project held rallies against Paul Girvan’s Conscience Clause Bill in Belfast, Londonderry, Newry with varying attendances. The rally … Read more

Cartoon – Spencer on Monday

This is the start of something new. The plan is a regular slot, every Monday morning, with a cartoon taking a look at the main headlines. As some of you know well, for me it all began with Rowel Friers and Ian Knox; But these guys set a legacy hard to match. And so a lot of my work has been hit and miss over the past few years. Over the last 6-9 months I’ve worked attentively on my illustration skills … Read more

Has the Equality Commission Gone ‘Baking Mad’?

Peter Lynas is Director of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland. He writes here protesting against what he sees as “a fundamental attack on political and religious freedom”, arguing that the Equality Commission has lost all sense of perspective on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion with regard to the Ashers case. The Equality Commission has decided to take Asher’s Baking Company to court because it refused to make what has become known as ‘the gay cake’. … Read more

Icing added to Gay cake row

The saga of Asher’s bakery and the “gay cake row” continues. The Equality Commission has apparently sent a letter to Asher’s last week threatening legal action for discrimination on the grounds of discrimination over political beliefs which seems somewhat different from the original threats of legal action on the grounds of sexual orientation discrimination. From the News Letter: General manager of the bakers Daniel McArthur said he had now received a letter from the commission claiming his stance breached legislation. … Read more

PCI conference – Church in the Public Square – Roger Trigg, Colin Harvey, Michael Wardlow (Thu 9 Oct)

I’m firmly of the belief that churches deserve to be in the public square, but they need to take the initiative to elbow their way into the crowded agora and have something worthwhile to say. While peace and reconciliation efforts were made both at grassroots and denominational levels, over the last 40 years some inconvenient issues were ignored. There is much that the church could challenge, holding up Gospel values against Executive policies nevermind Executive politics. It’s good to see … Read more

“People are being treated differently in NI because of their sexual orientation & that cannot be acceptable”

After a long period of reflection and internal discussion The Equality Commission today published a policy document on Promoting Sexual Orientation Equality: Priorities and Recommendations. The Chief Commissioner Michael Wardlow said: People are being treated differently in Northern Ireland because of their sexual orientation and that cannot be acceptable in the 21st century. In summary, the paper “recommends that legislation should be introduced to permit same sex marriage and adoption and that a ban on blood donations from any group, … Read more

ECNI: “where it believes that a public authority may have failed to comply with its approved Equality Scheme…”

As UTV note, the Equality Commission For Northern Ireland have announced that they are “to conduct an investigation into a decision made by Newry and Mourne District council to retain the name “The Raymond McCreesh Park” for a Council-owned play park in Newry.”  Here’s Mick’s post on that decision in December last year. From the Equality Commission press release The investigation will consider whether, in making its decision, the Council has failed to comply with commitments made in its Equality … Read more

Do Unionist councils need to learn the ‘trick’ of using nationalist mayors as a majoritarian cover?

Watching Nolan on Wednesday night was a fascinating experience (of which more later). A couple of our regular bloggers were in the audience. Of all the moments, this from Chris probably took the lion’s share of positive comment on Twitter: He makes an important point, when he recounts the number of unionist councils which refuse to rotate the chair in council. Simply put, it is an open goal waiting to scored anytime power sharing comes up. What unionists miss, and … Read more

One rule for the City of Belfast and another for the City of Newry?

So, another ten year battle comes to an end. Raymond McCreesh was an IRA volunteer who was convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of firearms with intent to endanger life and PIRA membership. He died on Hunger Strike in the Maze Prison after 61 days in 1981. As Henry Reilly of UKIP also notes: “Raymond McCreesh created so much fear in the unionist community. When he was caught he was setting up an ambush for police and Army … Read more

In terms of post-recession employment, the young and the vulnerable are suffering the most – but what will we do about it?

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland logo

In many ways the Equality Commission’s 115 report confirmed my shallow understanding of the recession. People who’ve never worked – eg, the young – are struggling to get jobs. People who have lost jobs are struggling to regain employment. Vulnerable groups are finding it tough. And blue collar has so far been worse than white collar.