The North in crisis-The realities of discrimination
ARE CATHOLICS really discriminated against in the North. If so, who carries out the policy, and how? What is the evidence to support the often repeated Catholic accusation that they get a raw deal in housing, jobs and political representation? Intra-communal discrimination is manifest in disparities of income; inequality of employment opportunities; different unemployment and emigration rates; allociation of housing and the share out of political representation.
For most people discrimination is most immediate in the case of jobs , and housing. The figures for employment of Catholics in the Government and Public sectors show that the 35% Catholic minority may have a fair chance of a job in the lower paid grades and particularly the unskilled jobs, In the white collar grades recruitment of Catholics is less than their percentage of the population and Catholics are less likely to be promoted as fast or as far as their Protestant colleagues. Disparities of income: The fact that the percentage of Catholics steadily dwindles the further up the promotional ladder, is merely evidence that the Catholic can expect a lower maximum salary that his Protestant colleagues, In County Fermanagh, the County Council has 166 employees of which 156 are Protestants.
In the Government service the Professional and Technical grades, Catholics accounted for 6% of the staff; at Administrative levels 7% and on Public Boards Catholics took 15% of the seats. The Post Office is a service controlled from London through a Regional Administration. The following Table shows the position for white collar workers:
In the case of Local Authorities the information, where made available or discoverable, indicates more blatant discrimination, Local councils have extensive powers of patronage and where Unionist controlled councils operate in Catholic areas the local authority employment is generally overwhelmingly Protestant.
In the case of Tyrone County Council, Unionist-controlled with a largely Catholic population, the County Hall has staff of 100 but only 4 are Catholics, At the Education Offices 2 of the 70 staff are Catholics.The Rural Council offices also employ 2 Catholics, this time with a total staff of 35. There are 22 posts in the Tyrone whose appointments must be approved by the Minister for Development. One is filled by a Catholic.
How do Unionists, who are in a minority in certain areas, manage to obtain political control in those areas? The answer is three-fold:
1 : Deprivation in Housing; no house no vote,
2: Ghetto Housing; all anti Unionist votes in the same place.
3: Gerrymander of constituency boundaries; when all else fails,
Stormont elections on the other hand are held on the basis of universal adult sufferage, but by means of the Gerrymander technique, the Unionists can expect to pick up a disproportionate number of the seats in Catholic dominated areas. In Fermanagh, Tyrone and parts of Derry and Armagh, several Unionist M,P's owe their seats to the manner in which the boundaries are drawn.
It takes more votes to elect an antiUnionist M.P. than it does a Unionist. This is why the C,R. spokesmen are insistant on, not only one man one vote in all elections, but votes of equal value. e,g.: In Derry it takes 2,500 votes to elect anti-Unionist but only 850 to elect a Unionist.I
The predominantly Catholic areas of the North are the three Western counties, Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh.These counties are mainly agricultural, they have little industry except for a small pocket in Derry city and emigration is highest from these counties. But in the North the emigration rate among Catholics is such that in spite of having twice the birth rate, and 5% of the schoolchildren the overall percentage of Catholics has remained static.
The so-called West of the Bann policy which is supposed to provide employment for those forced from the land, has, to say the least, never succeeded, The question is whether it is intended to succeed. The Wilson report of 1965, adopted by the Government, advocated the development of 9 industrial centres but only one of these was West of the Bann. Unemployment is greatest West of the Bann and in Catholic areas in the East.