'Religious bias' on sports board
Published 30/10/2012 | 17:53
More than twice as many Catholics as Protestants have been appointed to the board of Sport Northern Ireland, it has been claimed.
Jim Allister said the selection proved religious bias by the Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.
Mr Allister, leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice, said: "Since coming to office the minister has appointed 10 Roman Catholics and just four Protestants to the board of Sport NI. One individual was appointed whose community background is not known.
"The fact that a consistent pattern is evident across a number of Sinn Fein departments points to design, not accident and exposes once again the nonsense of the republican claim that they are building an Ireland of equals."
The information was released to Mr Allister in response to a written question to the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL). He had requested the breakdown of the community background of the Sport NI board members appointed since Sinn Fein's Ms Ni Chuilin took up office.
In June an industrial tribunal found that Protestant man, Alan Lennon had been overlooked for the position of chairman at Northern Ireland Water because of his religion. The tribunal found evidence from the then Department of Regional Development minister Conor Murphy lacked credibility.
Mr Murphy who is also a Sinn Fein MLA has consistently refuted all allegations of religious discrimination.
Mr Allister said tribunal outcome had prompted him to ask other government departments to provide the success rates for Protestants and Catholics in ministerial appointments since May 2007.
Sport NI is arms length body of DCAL. Its primary aim is to develop sport in Northern Ireland and its headquarters are at the House of Sport in south Belfast.
In a statement a DCAL spokeswoman said: "Mr Allister's assertion that DCAL practices a pattern of religious discrimination in public appointments is utterly untrue. All DCAL's public appointments are made in line with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments NI, and appointments competitions are regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments."