Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Campbell slams Sinn Fein over civil rights celebrations

By Mark Bain

East Londonderry DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said Sinn Fein "should not be allowed to escape the irony" after the party's commemorations of the civil rights movement of 1968.

"There are a series of events being organised by nationalists to mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement in 1968," Mr Campbell said.

"It is obviously everyone's entitlement to commemorate events. Nationalists demanded rights on a number of fronts - jobs, housing and votes were the main campaign grounds, statutory changes were implemented within months of the campaign commencing in 1968.

"But the 2018 reality is very different from the 1968 rhetoric.

"Much of the public sector has a considerable responsibility to carry out in ensuring Protestants get a fair deal in employment.

"The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is the body responsible for the allocation and maintenance of public sector housing and Protestants know over a period of decades how difficult it has been to get employment in that organisation."

In March this year it was revealed that across five offices in counties Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh, the Housing Executive employs 335 staff. Only 76 are Protestant - just under 23% of the workforce. Catholics account for 75%.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: "The Housing Executive has an Affirmative Action Strategy in place, which has been agreed with the Equality Commission Northern Ireland, which includes measures developed to encourage applications from members of the Protestant community, who are currently under-represented in areas of our workforce.

"We welcome applications from all suitably qualified members of the community, irrespective of any equality dimension.

"All applicants, regardless of their community background, are afforded equality of opportunity and selection is made solely on the basis of merit."

Mr Campbell added: "The issue of votes and manipulation of the outcome of electoral contests was the other matter highlighted at a time when in each Sinn Fein-held constituency there was an unprecedented increase in the numbers of postal and proxy votes being applied for.

"In the case of one constituency (Foyle) the seat was won by Sinn Fein by less than one quarter of the postal/proxy votes. The real campaign for truth about these matters will continue."

A Sinn Fein spokesperson responded: "It's no surprise that Gregory Campbell or the DUP - 50 years after people won the right to vote - are unhappy about people exercising their democratic right to vote.

"Gregory should get used to the fact that we are not going back to the apartheid, one-party, orange state of 1968."

Belfast Telegraph

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