Belfast Telegraph

Sectarianism rife in Northern Ireland private firms: report

By David McKittrick

Sectarian difficulties within private firms in Northern Ireland continue to pose major problems, according to a substantial new report from Belfast trade unions.

The report concludes that hundreds of Catholic and Protestant workers encounter verbal abuse and whispering campaigns.

The report, by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, suggests hundreds of workers refrain from registering complaints because of the fear of worsening their situations or losing their jobs.

Most of those who complain are Catholics, but many Protestants also say they are picked on.

The report quotes a series of employees who said they have been affected. One said: “I sometimes dread coming into work but I need the work so I stay.”

Another said: “I felt that everyone was looking at me the whole time saying, 'There's the Catholic.' I was desperate to get out.”

While strengthened laws and increased political focus have eradicated much of the traditional imbalance in the public sector, the authors call for more attention to be paid to private companies.

They conclude: “It is evident from our research that low-level but persistent sectarian harassment is a feature of too many workplaces in Northern Ireland.”

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