Belfast Telegraph

Video: Northern Ireland Secretary Bradley intervenes over Border Force jobs ban on soldiers

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Secretary of State Karen Bradly has intervened over a bar effectively preventing police and soldiers from Northern Ireland applying for government jobs - despite it not being in place for the same jobs in the rest of the UK.

Applicants from England, Scotland or Wales who don't have the necessary qualifications were able to apply for the jobs with the Border Force across the whole of the UK if they had served with the police or armed forces.

However, that criteria was dropped for the positions in Northern Ireland.

The Equality Commission advised the Home Office 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".

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson raised the matter in Parliament during Northern Ireland questions on Wednesday.

"When veterans living in England, Wales or Scotland apply for a post with Border Force, their former service in the armed forces is taken into account, but that is not so for veterans in Northern Ireland," he said.

"That is based on advice given to the Home Office by the so-called Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which claims that equality laws in Northern Ireland do not undermine the military covenant. Well, it has been caught out well on that one."

Responding, Secretary of State Karen Bradley said: "I am well aware of the matter and have taken it up with the Home Office. I hope to be able to report back shortly."

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.

The Home Office has been asked for a comment.

Mrs Bradley was also asked how many customs officials would be needed to man the 208 crossings traversing the 310 mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

She said "The Government’s policy on future customs arrangements in Northern Ireland is very clear. We will not accept a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, and we are committed to avoiding a hard border with Ireland, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls."

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