Author and journalist Jude Collins has an article with the Belfast Media Group examining the continued apartheid nature of the British-administered north-east of Ireland where those from the Irish community, a majority of whom are “Roman Catholics”, continue to suffer discrimination in employment forty-five years after the beginnings of the civil rights movement and now some fourteen years after the cessation of hostilities through the peace process between the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army and their UK counterparts:
“So how is the Good Friday Agreement working generally, in its promise that equality of employment opportunity would prevail here? Well, if you’re a Catholic, this might be a good time to put aside the paper and go for a walk…
You’re gone? OK. “Labour Force Survey Religion Report 2010” from the OFMDFM says that 61 per cent of long-term unemployed people are Catholic; the 2008 Annual Average of Long-Term Unemployed, from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, showed that 29 of the 38 electoral wards most affected by unemployment across Northern Ireland have at least an 85 per cent Catholic population.
…I was talking to a senior trade union official a while back who insisted that lots of firms here operate with very uneven Catholic:Protestant figures for the workforce. Cases aren’t brought against them because people, including those involved, fear the repercussions of kicking up stink.
…decades after fair employment legislation and 14 years after the Good Friday Agreement, we’re still talking about the dice being loaded against Catholics in search of a job. Shouldn’t somebody be shouting they’re mad as hell and not going to take it any more?”
The sectarian and racist nature of the Northern Pale, despite a decade of power-sharing between the Irish nationalist and British unionist communities, remains as strong as ever simply because it’s integral to its continued existence. “Northern Ireland” was conceived from the start as a discriminatory entity since it is nothing more than the last broken remnant of the UK’s colony in Ireland. What applied across all of the island for centuries under direct rule from London, and its local proxies, was reduced to a shrunken echo of its former self under in-direct rule with the British ethno-political minority in the north of the country given free reign to indulge their most base instincts.
And still it goes on. From the Irish Times:
“A CATHOLIC worker at aerospace firm Short Brothers, who suffered a “chillingly frightening” campaign of sectarian text threats, has been awarded damages of £11,500.
Aircraft fitter Louis McGettigan was warned in messages to watch his back and told there were too many “Taigs” working at the company’s Belfast plant.
A judge ruled that Shorts was liable for harassment by another member of staff within the predominantly Protestant workforce.
The judge ruled that no defence had been established. “The nature and circumstances of the plaintiff’s employment were that this company had a predominantly Protestant workforce and is located in a predominantly Protestant part of the city. It was aware of the receipt by the plaintiff of a series of intimidating messages. It had policies which were not implemented.”
She added: “The reality of this shop floor is that, with full knowledge that a long-serving employee of good standing and proven integrity reported chillingly frightening sectarian texts to various managers, the employer did nothing beyond providing a room for police interviews.”
She awarded general and special damages of £11,500″
Of course this is but another part of a greater picture, illustrated by Mark McGregor over at Hearts of Oak and Steel:
“In the last few weeks the notorious Pride of the Village Flute Band Stoneyford (POVFBS), formerly lead by pederast Orangeman Mark Harbinson (currently expelled), has again started to ratchet up sectarian tensions in Stoneyford village. There were hopes the sectarian campaign against Catholics in the area would end following the conviction of the ringleader Harbinson for sexually abusing children.
However, Pride of Stoneyford are again applying for weekly parades through the village. Again, seeking to march through every residential area that could possibly have a few Catholics not yet intimidated out.”
The northern “state” began as a sectarian headcount, a shorthand for national allegiances, reflecting the unionist and British view of Ireland and the Irish people as a whole. It remains their shorthand, though a crude and inaccurate one. However it does not reflect the Irish view of ourselves or of our island nation.