A new report from the Orange Order claims that Protestants in Northern Ireland civil service feel they are being treated unfairly compared to Catholics.

A number of the 25 people surveyed complained about double-standards in the acceptance of cultural practices, saying that Catholic civil servants came into work with Ash Wednesday ash of their foreheads, kept sympathy Mass cards on their desks, discussed the results of GAA games, or referred to the confirmation of their children. 

In comparison, the Protestants said they were being instructed to remove “religious tracts” from their desks, the Irish Times reports.

The Orange Order’s report, Fairness & Fear: An Investigation of the Treatment of Protestants in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, was conducted in response to an increasing number of complaints, said the order. Those surveyed for the report were either Orange Order members or had close relatives in the organization.

The order referred to a “cold house factor” for Protestants in the civil service. 

“Our members are saying to us that they are not being treated fairly and they are afraid to speak out,” it said.

According to the report, there were 300 fewer Protestants in the 25,000 civil service workforce than would be the case if the service “exactly reflected” the Catholic-Protestant population breakdown.

One woman said line management spoke of the schools their children attended playing “camogie and GAA.”

“I see this as letting Protestant staff know who they are,” she said.

The promotion of the “Liofa” Irish-language campaign within the service and the publication in a civil service newsletter of people wearing items of clothing bearing GAA logos were also criticized. It said people wearing soccer logos were blurred out.

SDLP Assembly member Patsy McGlone called the complaints about the GAA, Mass cards and confirmations “insulting”, “deeply bigoted” and “fundamentally stupid.” He said the complaints also missed the fact that many Protestants take the sacrament of confirmation.

A report from the Orange Order claims that Protestants in Northern Ireland's civil service feel they are being treated unfairly compared to Catholics.Wikimedia