Belfast Telegraph

Father furious over the ‘farcical ban’ preventing ex-Navy son applying for Border Force jobs

By Jonathan Bell

A father has said he was heartbroken to learn his son was effectively barred from applying for a Border Force job in Northern Ireland that he could apply for anywhere else in the UK.

Anyone from England, Scotland or Wales who doesn't have the necessary two A-levels or Border Force experience can still apply for the jobs in Northern Ireland if they have served in the police or armed forces.

That criteria, however, has not been included for Northern Ireland applicants.

The Home Office dropped the criteria here after advice from the Equality Commission.

It advised the Home Office that a potential candidate from the Catholic community without a military or law enforcement background could argue the criteria was not justified as their community's experience in those areas was "considerably smaller than the proportion of the Protestant community".

But the father of a Northern Ireland man who served in the Navy for 10 years said he was shocked at learning his son was barred from applying for the job.

"Whether he got the job or not is a different matter," said the man who asked not to be named over security concerns.

"The simple fact is if he lived in Plymouth, Glasgow or Cardiff he could apply but not if he lived in Belfast.

"They are good well-paid jobs with good terms and conditions and pensions which are hard to come by.

"My son doesn't want to leave Northern Ireland. It is his home and he has family here. He was based all over the world with the Navy and is now settled - but why should he leave?

"It's just heartbreaking and unfair but farcical. The deadline is May 7, so he has probably lost out."

Last month the Home Office was forced into a climbdown over a requirement for Border Force applicants to hold a British passport.

Following criticism that it excluded Irish passport holders in Northern Ireland, it said the inclusion of the requirement was an error.

The positions were re-advertised, with only a valid passport needed.

TUV leader Jim Allister accused the Home Office of replacing one form of discrimination with another.

"It's totally unacceptable," he said. "It's scandalous that this even needs to be raised with HM Government, particularly given the remarkable work the security forces did in this part of the UK in dealing with 30 years of terrorism.

"It is a gross insult to all who served in HM's forces. An Equality Commission spokeswoman said: "We stressed the importance of ensuring employers in Northern Ireland comply with the requirements placed on them by equality legislation. We referred to the commission's guidance and particularly to fair employment requirements.

"We advised Border Force of our concerns in relation to the relevance of the experience criteria, given that it is not essential for applicants to have this experience and that training is provided for all appointees. In addition, we discussed the need for objective justification of all criterion.

"The commission also advised of the potential for individuals to take complaints under the various equality statutes should they feel that any aspects of the recruitment process may discriminate against them, either directly or indirectly."

Belfast Telegraph

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