Belfast Telegraph

Equality Commission raises 'discrimination' issues over Brexit border force recruiting British passport holders

By Cate McCurry

The Equality Commission has raised issues with a recent ad for Brexit Border Force jobs after it said candidates must hold British passports.

It's understood a review is now underway into the recruitment specifications for roles that are part of hundreds of new Border Force jobs being created across the UK ahead of Brexit.

The Home Office is currently advertising for 16 Border Force Officers based at Belfast International Airport and five Border Force Assistant Officer jobs based in Belfast.

To work for Border Force applicants must be UK citizens and hold British passports which must be presented at interview.

The Equality Commission contacted Border Force over the matter saying it raised grounds for "possible discrimination".

Eileen Lavery, Head of Advice and Compliance at the Equality Commission, said:  “The Equality Commission has been in contact with the Border Force over some time regarding issues around a recent recruitment advertisement by them for staff in Northern Ireland.

“The Commission has made the point that the requirement for a person to hold, and produce at interview a British passport, in order to meet the criterion of being a UK national, could exclude a large section of the Northern Ireland population who identify as Irish, hold no UK passport and, in many cases, hold an Irish passport.

"We have pointed out that this could raise concerns about possible discrimination on grounds covered by the Fair Employment and Treatment Order, which includes political opinion, and/or by the Race Relations Order.

"We also suggested that, in determining who qualifies as eligible for the posts, and in deciding what documents will be required as proof of that, the Border Force should give consideration to the Good Friday Agreement, which recognises the right of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both.  

"The Agreement also confirms that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments.

"The Commission understands that the Border Force as a matter of urgency is now reviewing this matter and the points the Commission has made."

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