The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has denied claims that it has neglected to promote employment opportunities for Protestant workers in the public sector.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) accused the commission – which was established in 1998 to promote an integrated and inclusive workforce – of failing to tackle the under-representation of Protestant employees in certain areas of the Civil Service.
Gregory Campbell, East Londonderry Assembly candidate, said: “The Equality Commission has been failing in its duty to introduce robust measures in the public sector so that the Protestant community can see equality of opportunity at work.
“In virtually every major area where there is Catholic under-representation the situation is improving, while in the public sector, where most people are employed, Protestant under-representation is not.”
Campbell also cited Ulster’s “brain drain” phenomenon, where numerous undergraduates, especially those with a Protestant background, leave Northern Ireland for university and never return.
But a spokesman for the Equality Commission said it was proactively working with public sector employers to tackle the issue of under-represented religious communities.
“The commission fulfils its responsibilities in this regard diligently and impartially, and addresses problems of under-representation affecting either community to ensure the highest standards of fairness and equality in the workplace,” he told Personnel Today.
Protestants make up an estimated 57% of Northern Ireland’s workforce, while Roman Catholics account for 43%, according to commission figures. There were no figures available for the proportion of Protestant workers in Northern Ireland’s public sector.