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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 08:09 GMT
Protestant workers 'face discrimination'
The religious make-up of the workforce is monitored

New figures "prove" that Protestant workers in Northern Ireland are being discriminated against, a DUP MP has said.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell made the comments after tabling a parliamentary question on changes in the workforce.

He said the answer revealed a fall of almost 5,000 Protestant employees between 1992 and 2002, whilst the number of Catholic workers had increased by 22,000.

Mr Campbell has called on the Equality Commission and the government to ensure that Protestant workers are treated fairly.

"The answer provides a devastating blow to those who have believed the myth of discrimination against Roman Catholics, and proves that the action which is required is how to ensure that more Protestants get jobs, because it is they who have been losing out," he said.

Now that the myth has been swept aside, the government must begin addressing the reality of Protestant disadvantage in the jobs stakes
Gregory Campbell

"This can only mean that, as I have argued for many years, new jobs are being allocated disproportionately to Roman Catholics.

"No other rational explanation can be given for the Protestant/Roman Catholic 'gap' narrowing by 26,000 jobs in a ten-year period.

"Now that the myth has been swept aside, the government must begin addressing the reality of Protestant disadvantage in the jobs stakes".

In December 2003, the Equality Commission revealed that the number of Catholics in the workplace had risen while there were fewer Protestants in work.

The commission's 13th annual monitoring report was based on a survey of 481,117 people working in the public and private sectors.

Community background

The report found that the number of Catholic employees increased by 1.7% in 2002, while the number of Protestants fell by 0.6%.

Protestants accounted for almost two-thirds of those approaching retirement, the report found.

Under fair employment legislation in Northern Ireland, all public and private sector companies with 11 or more employees must register with the Equality Commission.

The companies are required each year to submit details of the community background, employment status, occupation and sex of their workforce.

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