Commentary upon The White Paper (Cmd.558) entitled 'A Record of Constructive Change' (1971)
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THE WHITE PAPER
(Command Paper 558)
OF CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE'
Published by the Government of
on 20 August, 1971
Written by a group of Catholics serving on statutory boards and public bodies,
Printed and published by the Irish News Limited, Belfast
20 September 1971
The group does not attempt to answer either question. Each individual will provide his own answer.
Belfast, 20 September, 1971.
THE WHITE PAPER (CMD 558)
‘A RECORD OF CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE’
published by the Government of
Northern Ireland on 20 August, 1971
Paragraph 6 of the Downing Street Declaration states: The two governments at their meeting at 10 Downing Street today have reaffirmed that in all legislation and executive decisions of government every citizen of Northern Ireland is entitled to the same equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination as obtains in the rest of the United Kingdom, irrespective of political views or religion, in their runner meetings the two governments will be guided by these mutually accepted principles. It is stated in Paragraph 5 of the Declaration that: The United Kingdom Government have welcomed the decisions of the Northern Ireland Government relating to local government franchise, the revision of local government areas, the allocation of houses, the creation of a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in Northern Ireland and machinery to consider citizens’ grievances against other public authorities which the Prime Minister reported to the House of Commons at Westminster following his meeting with Northern Ireland Ministers on 21st May as demonstrating the determination of the Northern Ireland Government that there shall be full equality of treatment for all citizens. Both governments have agreed that it is vital that the momentum of internal reform should he maintained.The communique issued on 29 August, 1969, alter the visit of Mr. James Callaghan to Northern Ireland in paragraph 7 again emphasised equality of citizenship:
In their discussions Ministers had very much in mind the affirmation in paragraph 6 of the joint Declaration made at Downing Street on 19th August, of the entitlement of every citizen of Northern Ireland to the same equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination as obtains in the rest of the United Kingdom, irrespective of political views or religion.This commentary is designed as a sober analysis of the implication in the White Paper that since August 1969 the Northern Ireland Government has proceeded with all speed to implement the programme of reforms not only in the letter but in the spirit. Two questions must first be asked:
(i) Why was such a volume of enactments and administrative acts urgently necessary in August 1969? and (ii)What practical, effective reforms have resulted from the actions taken by the government since 1969?Regarding the first question, it is now accepted that from 1921 till 1969 a succession of unionist governments in Northern Ireland supported by the Unionist Parliamentary Party, the Ulster Unionist Council, Unionist Associations and the Orange Order practised and condoned discrimination against more than one third of the citizens of Northern Ireland, namely the members of the Catholic community. With a permanent, Protestant electoral majority in parliament the unionists prevented the democratic control of local government where there were Catholic majorities (e.g. in Derry City, County Fermanagh, etc.) and used the weapons of gerrymander and the abolition of proportional representation to establish and maintain unionist control in parliament and in central and local government. The report of the Cameron Commission, Disturbances in Northern Ireland (Cmd 532), said in paragraph 6:
"It is plain from what we have heard, read and observed that the train of events and incidents which began in Londonderry on 5th October, 1968, has had as its background, on the one hand a widespread sense of political and social grievance for long unadmiltted and therefore unredressed by successive Governments of Northern Ireland, and on the other sentiments of fear and apprehension sincerely and tenaciously felt and believed, of risks to the integrity and indeed continued existence of the state,"Lord Cameron simply confirmed what every intelligent citizen already knew and what Unionist government spokesmen for years denied but later sought to defend on grounds of political expediency. In 1921 the vast majority of Catholics were in favour of a united Ireland - they were nationalists. They were entitled, both morally and legally, to their political viewpoint in the same way as were unionists and adherents of other political creeds; but this right was not conceded by unionism .Lord Brookeborough (with thirty years’ experience as a Cabinet Minister including twenty years as Prime Minister) was not divulging any secret when in an interview reported only two years ago in August 1969 in The Word he explained the unionist policy of gerrymander and discrimination since 1921. The unionists did not discriminate against Catholics qua Catholics, he said, but only because they were nationalists. He explained to his interviewer that one did not put one’s enemy (the nationalist or republican Catholic) in a position to do one harm, and he admitted that he did not differentiate the constitutionalist from the revolutionary. The right to want and strive for a politically united Ireland was not admitted by unionist spokesmen until after the British intervention in 1969. This right is still denied by Paisleyites and hard-line unionists. It is significant that from 1921 to 1969 there is virtually no mention in the Ulster Unionist Party’s propaganda literature of the paramount internal problem of a divided community, and the first official acknowledgment of the existence of the problem appears in that partys Declaration of Principle and Statement of Policy for the General Election 1969 when the following promise appears:
"The party will work to heal those divisions in our community which have so far prevented Northern Ireland from fulfilling its best hopes."During the same pried innumerable efforts for the reform of Stormont were made inside and outside parliament by all the minorities - nationalist, labour, liberal - without avail and it is true to say that when the campaign of the Civil Rights Association began in 1968 there still prevailed in Northern Ireland the situation described by Professor Nicholas Mansergh in 1936 in The Government of Northern Ireland: A Study in Devolution.
"…the government of Northern Ireland has shown itself deficient in those very qualities which its independence should encourage. It has made no consistent attempt to break down the traditional hostility between the respective creeds; it has not possessed either the wish or the courage to ignore the demands of the Orange extremists; it has not given that positive leadership which is so needed if a spirit of common citizenship is to be established. Admittedly, a unionist government is in power; but Ministers would be well advised to remember that unionist is the adjective and government the noun."Generations of Catholics experienced a succession of intractable unionist governments, totally resistant over the years to the least change and committed to discrimination and gerrymander. One can therefore understand why Catholics and many Protestants believe that if it had not been for the intervention of the British Government after politics had been taken to the streets in 1968 and 1969 the Northern Ireland government would not have agreed to any proposals for reform. These views are confirmed by recent editorials in the News Letter, the Belfast unionist morning newspaper, extracts from which are set out in Appendix 1. Northern Ireland minorities distrust Orange unionism, This distrust has been aggravated
(a) by the fact that within the unionist parliamentary party the prospect of reform generated power struggles which endanger community peace and (b) by increasing belief that the sectarian nature of the unionist political structure is an insuperable obstacle to meaningful reform.What then have been the results of the reform programme, the second question raised on page four? The major changes include franchise reforms, replacement by an impartial commission of the grotesquely sectarian unionist Corporation of Londonderry elected on the basis of a flagrant gerrymander, the appointment of a few additional Catholics to some statutory bodies, the disbandment of the ‘B Specials’. the establishment of a police authority and a housing executive and the opening up of prospects of promotion for Catholics in certain areas of public service. However, the continued application of the Brookeborough formula of government by discrimination maintains intact the unionist position of power. Before consideration can be given to the claims of the Northern Ireland government that reforms have been implemented, one must consider the background to the various commitments to reform, the efficacy of each reform, its success to date and the prospect of its future success. This it is proposed to do under the headings given in the White Paper. It is intended to indicate the shortcomings in each section and where appropriate the steps that have been taken by the government or others to nullify the effects of the reform programme. In each case the text of the white paper is printed in heavy type.
7. - The Police Commitment In the Communique of 10 October, 1969: To accept the principle of a civilianised and unarmed police force Action: This principle was embodied in the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 which became law on 26 March, 1970.
Background The Cameron Commission in its report dated 16 August, 1969 summarised its conclusions upon ‘the immediate and precipitating causes’ of the 1968 disorders. One general cause adduced was:
(5) "Resentment, particularly among Catholics. as to the existence of the Ulster Special Constabulary (the ‘B’ Specials) as a partisan and paramilitary force recruited exclusively from Protestants (Para 229 (a))" One particular adduced was: (14) - "The police handling of the demonstration in Londonderry on 5 October, 1968 was in certain material respects ill co-ordinated and inept. There was use of unnecessary and ill controlled force in the dispersal of the demonstrators, only a minority of whom acted in a disorderly and violent manner."(Para 229 (b))The Cameron Commission made the following observations relating to the police:
The Government’s announcements on the reform of local government franchise - the ‘one man one vote’ issue - reform and readjustment of local government administration, including electoral areas and boundaries, introduction of a comprehensive and fair ‘points’ system in the allocation of Council built houses and the introduction of special machinery to deal with complaints arising out of matters of local administration, go a very considerable way, not only to acknowledge the justice of the complaints on these points but also the expediency and necessity of providing remedies for them (Para 229). In view of this we feel that we should not be stepping beyond the limits of our duty if we were to add two observations of our own which are relevant to these proposals for reform. The first of these relates to the police. The nature of the relationship of the R.U.C. to the Minister of Home Affairs makes it easy for the criticism to be put forward that the R.UC. is essentially an instrument of party Government. Where complaints are made of misconduct of police officers towards members of the public it is obviously in the interest of the police force as well as of the public that there should be full confidence that any inquiry should be wholly unbiased and that it should be in impartial hands. Lack of confidence in police impartiality leads to lack of public confidence in and support for the police. If it is the express intention of the Northern Ireland Government that there should be specific machinery for dealing with complaints against local government administration, it appears to us that there is substance in a suggestion that matters of complaint against members of the police force should be investigated by an equally responsible and impartial body. In light of the events which have occurred and which formed the subject matter of our Inquiry, we have felt that a complaints board or tribunal of independent persons appointed on the nomination or recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice might be an appropriate compliment to the machinery for dealing with local government grievances. Such a tribunal would be responsible for investigation and, in the appropriate case, report to the Inspector General for any necessary disciplinary action, or, if felt that criminal proceedings might be required, to the requisite criminal authority. In addition, in order to preserve parliamentary control it would ‘be necessary that such a board or tribunal should report its activities annually to Parliament. This could, in effect, be no more than a logical extension of the provision already introduced into the Polite Code of associating a practising barrister with the disciplinary tribunal investigating complaints against the police, and for the public hearing thereof in cases where matters of security are not involved. In making this proposal we in no way wish to reflect on the impartiality and care with which County Inspector Baille carried out his investigations. As we have already said we, with respect, endorse his conclusion that there were serious breaches of discipline and acts of illegal violence perpetrated by certain police officers in Londonderry on 4th/5th January, 1969, but we think such a difficult task as that entrusted to him was to place a very heavy responsibility on his shoulders at; a senior police officer (Para 230). The first Chief Constable himself referred to the ‘conspiracy of silence’ of the police when an investigation of their conduct was undertaken.The Advisory Committee on Police in Northern Ireland of which Lord Hunt was chairman, also dealt with the situation in its report dated 3 October, 1969, as follows:
Before bringing together the recommendations and suggestions for changes in the R.U.C. and for the creation of two separate forces to perform those duties at present carried out by the USC. which we consider will still have to be performed, we would like to preface them by setting out what we regard as the most important considerations upon which efficient enforcement of law and order depends (Para 175).
Commentary From these various statements and quotations it will be seen that the concept of a police authority was a very important and necessary item in the reform programme in Northern Ireland. The concept of a civilianised and unarmed police force was warmly welcomed by the Catholic minority, as it offered the prospect of a police service removed from political control and a body of police officers who would command the respect and support of all local communities. The first Chief Constable, Sir Arthur Young, made valiant efforts to create the police service which was promised, but despite his efforts, to which many tributes were deservedly paid, the concept has not been realised and the police are not accepted in many areas. The Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 became law on 28 March, 1970. A police authority was established on 29 June, 1970 "to secure the maintenance of an adequate and efficient police force in Northern Ireland…" (S 1(2)) A police force to be "adequate and efficient" must be accepted by and have a good relationship with the entire community if it is to get the necessary assistance and co-operation. To the man in the street it appeared that the Police Authority during the first year of its existence did not appreciate the importance of this requirement. Government ministers and the Chief Constable frequently pronounce on police matters - the Police Authority itself is seldom heard from. The authority was established to be a body independent of both the Ministry of Home Affairs and of the Chief Constable. It should clearly be seen by the public to be such and to act as such. This objective has not been realised. Most if not all of the clerical, executive and administrative officers of the. Police Authority are seconded civil servants, the majority of whom are from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was responsible for like police force during the disturbances of 1968 and 1969. Furthermore, many of the partisan police officers ware retained in the force and a number of them have obtained promotion. The transcripts of evidence presented to the tribunal of inquiry under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Scarman give examples of officers who were, to say no more, incompetent and failing in their duty to all sections of the community. It is recognised, however, that the power of the Police Authority to retire police officers is very limited by Section 7 (2) of the Act. One matter that must be particularly referred to is the system of dealing with complaints made by members of the public. The Hunt Report (Para 183 (4) ) recommended that the police authority should have a particular duty to keep itself informed as to the manner in which complaints against the police are dealt with. Section 12 of the Police Act provided legislation in these words. Section 13 of the Act provides that a complaint shall be referred to the Chief Constable who shall forthwith record the complaint and cause it to be investigated. If the complaint relates to a matter affecting, or appearing to affect, the public interest the Chief Constable may, and if so required by the Police Authority or the Minister, shall refer the complaint to a tribunal. So far as is known all complaints made are dealt with by the Chief Constable. No steps apparently have been taken to establish the independent tribunal provided for by Section 13 (2) of the Act. Up to the present complaints against the police are investigated and judged upon by the police themselves. The concept of the Police Authority was a good one; the failure to realise the concept is therefore all the more disappointing. Mr. James Callaghan, the former Home Secretary, in a speech in the Ulster Hail in Belfast on 25 March, 1971, is reported as saying:
"There is no need unnecessarily to go over old ground but, nevertheless, I must remind you that relations between the minority community and the forces of law and order had reached rock bottom two years ago. That is why British troops arrived and in the dramatic words of one senior police officer that I well recall at the time, he said: ‘my men are finished’. It is from that low point that it has been necessary to rebuild the morale of the police and their relationships with the public."So far as the Catholic minority is concerned those relationships remain to be rebuilt. It must be emphasised that the present distrustful attitude of the minority to the police is a fact and must be taken seriously into consideration in any assessment of the Northern Ireland problem. The particular situation in relation to the police is so serious as to require dramatic and immediate steps to be taken to remedy it. Thus to the questions:
Has the principle of a civilianised and unarmed police force been implemented? and Are the police now controlled by the Polite Authority? The answer must be a definite ‘No.’
9 - A Public Prosecutor Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969: To relieve the police of all responsibility for prosecutions and to establish a system of independent public prosecutors. Action: The Northern Ireland Government announced on 17 April 1971 that it had accepted the recommendation of an independent Working Party on Public Prosecutions under the chairmanship of the Hon. J.C. MacDermott, Q.C., that a system of public prosecutors should be established to relieve the police of the burdens of prosecuting in all summary offences other than minor ones. On 13 May the Prime Minister announced that the Northern Ireland Government intended to appoint a Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. As in England he will be responsible to the Attorney General, who in turn will be answerable to Parliament.Background Complaints had been made over a period of years that police prosecutions were instituted more readily and more vigorously against Catholics than against Protestants. The Hunt Report dated 3 October 1969 says:
While it is the unmistakable duty of the police to make offenders amenable to the law, the impartiality of the police may be questioned if they are responsible for deciding who shall be prosecuted and thereafter for acting in court as prosecutor. This practice can result also in a mistaken impression of the relationship between the courts and the police.’ (Para 142).The Committee accordingly recommended that a system of independent public prosecutors should be adopted. Commentary In the Joint Communique of 10 October 1969 the Northern Ireland government ‘accepted in principle that the police should be relieved of all responsibility for prosecutions, and that a system of independent public prosecutors should be adopted’ (para 3 (d)). Unfortunately the government delayed taking action on this critical matter for four months. In February 1970 it appointed a working party, whose report was signed ten months later on 30 December 1970 recommending the appointment of a director of public prosecutions. Four months later still (on 13 May 1971) the government announced its intention to appoint a director of public prosecutions. No action has yet been taken. And these avoidable delays mean that the department cannot become operational before the spring of 1972, two and a half years after 10 October 1969, when the principle was accepted. Meanwhile the volume of complaints about the partiality of police prosecutions continues to grow. The view is taken that criminal charges are preferred much more forcefully against Catholics than against any other section of the population both in selecting the number and nature of the charges to be brought, in the seriousness or otherwise of the Act under which the changes are brought, the method of commencement of the charges (whether by arrest or by service of summons) in determining whether bail should be opposed and in collecting, selecting and presenting evidence to the courts. A meeting of Catholic lawyers at the end of April 1971 and at lawyers both Catholic and Protestant on 4 May 1971 ultimately led to the establishment of a committee composed of nominees of the Bar Council of N. Ireland and nominees of the Incorporated Law Society of N. Ireland to look into the matter. This committee circularised both barristers and solicitors on 27 May 1971 seeking information as to specific allegations of partiality. A number of specific allegations were raised and were forwarded by the committee to the Police Authority through the Attorney General for detailed consideration and reply. Pending such consideration and reply it is unlikely that the committee will be able to report on this vital matter for some months. After two years, the police continue to be responsible for prosecutions, and people continue to be dissatisfied with the position. If justice is being done (and the "if" must be particularly emphasised) it is not being seen to be done. Having regard to the widespread criticisms and complaints frequently reported in the press and among the legal profession the appointment of a director of public prosecutions is a matter of urgency. Rut the government will not be carrying out the intention of the working party, if, as is stated in the White Paper, the Director of Public Prosecutions is to be responsible to the Attorney General, who is a part of the unionist party machine and has generally been a member of the Orange Order. The working party referred to above stated in its report (Cmd 554)
‘It has been said that what is required in Northern Ireland is a Director of Public Prosecutions as in England, the basis of this suggestion being that such a Director would be free from political influence and that decisions as to prosecutions should be in his hands rather than in those of the Attorney General, who is, in practice, also a politician. 'Accordingly we saw fit to look with care into the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in England. Mr. Haggan visited the office of the Director on 31 May 1970 and subsequently prepared a minute describing the office. ‘It is clear that the Director of Public Prosecutions is not a substitute for the Attorney General in England. No doubt he takes much of the weight off the shoulders of the Attorney General but he remains responsible to the Attorney General, who in turn remains responsible to Parliament. ‘As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, we have no doubt that for a Department of Public Prosecutions to be effective it must have a chief officer responsible for the efficient administration of the whole Department which would, as we see it, be responsible for the conduct of criminal proceedings in all courts. This a most important position and requires a person of the highest calibre, properly remunerated. Such a person could appropriately be styled the Director of Public Prosecutions but it must be noted that he would be responsible for the day-to-day work of prosecutions at all courts and not, as in England, simply the appropriate person to whom cases of peculiar difficulty are referred. 'We would record that these observations and recommendations are in no way to be taken as a reflection of the manner in which the office of Attorney General has been discharged over the years.’ (para 12).This would not appear to be the Prime Minister’s intention as stated in Parliament on 13 May 1971 (Hansard Vol. 80 No. 18 column 1872):
Nor should it be imagined that in England, simply because of the existence of a Director of Public Prosecutions, the basic constitutional position is in any way different; for the director remains responsible to the Attorney General, who in turn is answerable to Parliament. At this point may I inform the House that it would be our intention in the fairly near future, following on the Government statement, issued after publication of the MacDermott Report, to appoint a director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland who will stand in a similar relationship to our own Attorney General.The Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland must be independent, not responsible to the Attorney General, if the government is to follow the recommendations of the working party.
10. - Replacement of Ulster Special ConstabularyBackground In 1920 groups of armed Protestant civilians were absorbed in a special constabulary established by proclamation under the Special Constables (Ireland) Act, 1832. Originally there were three categories of "Specials" - 'A’, ‘B' and ‘C’ but the ‘A’ and ‘C’ categories were disbanded after a short time. However, the ‘B’ Specials survived under the formal title of Ulster Special Constabulary, professedly to act as a police reserve. In fact they were from the outset, and remained until their disbandment, an armed militia. Martin Wallace in his bock, Northern Ireland: Fifty Years of Self Government says:
"Both the R.U.C. and the U.S.C. were armed, and the latter - overwhelmingly if not entirely Protestant and largely drawn from the Orange Order - achieved an early reputation for sectarian violence being credited with killing a number of Catholics in 1921-22."
The activities of the Specials prior to their disbandment were the subject of evidence to the Scarman Tribunal, which has not yet reported.Commentary No reform was more widely welcomed by the minority than the decision to disband the U.S.C. This sectarian force had a long history of terrorism and indiscipline and it was a source of fear and terror to the Catholic community. There is continuing concern that the Specials are still banded together in an association which has Lord Brookeborough as its president. There is also widespread concern about the proliferation of rifle clubs, many of which are exclusively or largely composed of former ‘B’ Specials. In addition many former ‘B’ Specials are licensed personally to hold firearms. Increasing pressure is being exerted by Northern Ireland cabinet ministers and others to create a "third force", i.e. to bring back the specials. The minority would be horrified if such a development were permitted by the UK Government.
11 - Special Powers Act Commitment: The original five point reform programme announced by the Northern Ireland Government in November, 1968 undertook to withdraw those Special Powers which were in conflict with international obligations where this could be done without hazard. No specific mention was made of this undertaking in the Downing Street Declaration or the subsequent Joint Communiques.Background The history of the Special Powers Act is well known. Professor Nicholas Mansergh in The Government of Northern Ireland - A Study in Devolution published in 1936 stated at page 274:
‘In the exercise of these frankly despotic powers no check whatever was imposed on the Minister save that such regulations must be laid on the table of both Houses of Parliament "as soon as may be after they are made." Since the Minister was empowered to alter the regulations at will their actual provisions were of no great significance. But they were drastic. The civil power had full right of entry and of search, it might detain suspects at will. Heavy penalties were imposed upon persons found to be members of unlawful associations, the death penalty was imposed for breaches of the Explosive Substances Act. In addition, the civil authority might by notice prohibit the circulation of any newspaper, and - a truly remarkable provision - "no person may by word of mouth or in writing or in a newspaper or book, (a) spread false reports or make false statements or (b) spread reports likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty, or (c) spread reports likely to prejudice the recruiting of persons to serve in the police or any other force employed for the preservation of peace in Northern Ireland." ‘At the end of this Act one safeguard was provided for the public. The Act was to continue for one year "and no longer, unless Parliament otherwise determines." The Act was passed in 1922. It was renewed by Parliament every year till 1933. Then even this meagre safeguard was discarded, for it was decided that "the Act of 1922 shall continue in force until Parliament otherwise determines." It is difficult to find any justification whatever for the permanent adoption of this extreme type of emergency legislation.’Mansergh says also that the government "was unduly subservient to the Orange Order in a guarantee publicly given that the provisions of the Civil Authorities Act should not be used against any of its members." - (op. cit. 246). Commentary This Act is an obnoxious piece of legislation. The government's own statement in the white paper recognizes that it conflicts with the international obligations of the United Kingdom Government. The Act confers on the Minister of Home Affairs absolute powers. Acting on suspicion alone he can intern indefinitely, without charge or trial, confiscate and destroy property without compensation and prohibit inquests. The Northern Ireland government claims that this legislation is necessary to protect life and property in face of mounting violence. In fact the use of the detention provision within the last month or so has led to a degree of violence which Northern Ireland has not witnessed for over fifty years, Of interest here is another quotation from Mansergh:
"Moreover, a layman inexperienced in the art of government would have supposed that an executive armed with such powers would have been able to cope effectively with the sporadic rioting that occurred in Belfast in 1935, whereas, in fact, the disorder continued for three months. The raison d’etre for legislation in the category of the Civil Authorities Act disappears when it ceases to be effective."—(op. cit. 275).R. J. Lawrence in his The Government of Northern Ireland says that the Northern Ireland Government introduced the Civil Authorities Act in 1922 "to impose" its will on the "recalcitrant minority." Having regard to the promise of equality of citizenship given both by the United Kingdom Government and by the Northern Ireland government, it is impossible to understand why a subordinate parliament should have power to enact such legislation and to maintain it in force permanently. It is ‘equally impossible to understand the situation in which British soldiers are being used to operate legislation which does not apply to citizens in the rest of the United Kingdom and which is repugnant to ‘the vast majority of the British people.
12 - Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration Commitment in the Communique of 29 August, 1969: This office was established prior to the Downing Street Declaration but was welcomed in that Declaration by the United Kingdom Government as demonstrating the determination of the Northern Ireland Government that there shall be full equality of treatment for all citizens. Action: A Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration was appointed under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act (Northern Ireland) 1969, which became law on 24 June 1969. The present holder of the office is Sir Edmund Compton, G.C.B., who until recently also held the office of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration at Westminster. The Commissioner, whose job it is to investigate complaints of maladministration against Government Departments, has already issued two reports (H.C. 1954 and H.C. 2076). In his second report (H.C. 2076), covering a period of 18 months, the Parliamentary Commissioner said. "My first years of office in Northern Ireland have not produced a single instance of culpable action in the organs of central government." In the same report the Parliamentary Commissioner also said: "I think it fair to say that the quality of administrative performance in the Northern Ireland Ministries compares well with my experience of Government Departments in the United Kingdom. Indeed the individual citizen - frequently gets a better service from a Northern Ireland Ministry than he would get from a United Kingdom Department in similar circumstances owing to the easier access to central government."In Britain the Office of Parliamentary Commissioner was established by the Parliamentary Commissioner’ Act 1967, which became law on 22 March, 1967. The unionist government on four occasions (in 1904, 1966, 1967 and 1968) rejected proposal’s for ombudsman legislation put forward by opposition members at Stormont. After the events of October 1968, the government felt compelled to enact the Parliamentary Commissioner Act (Northern Ireland) 1969, which came into operation on 1 July, 1969. Commentary The act was modelled on the equivalent British Act and in practice in Northern Ireland has failed to ensure "full equality of treatment for all citizens."’ The British Act was not designed to deal with religious prejudice but with bureaucratic excess. The Northern Ireland Act is therefore incapable of dealing with religious prejudice, and unfortunately religious prejudice is the major problem here. One of the drawbacks of the Northern Ireland Act is that it allows only for an investigation of individual cases. The commissioner cannot therefore take into account evidence of a general pattern of discrimination. It is interesting to note that the Race Relations Act 1968, was passed in Britain on 25 October, 1968, to deal with the specific problem which existed in England, namely, discrimination by one person against another on a ground of colour, race or ethnic, or national origins. This British Act established a Race Relations Board and Conciliation Committees to secure compliance with the provisions of the Act and to resolve differences arising out of the provisions of the Act. This Act emphasises how necessary it is for a new Act to be introduced in Northern Ireland to deal with our besetting problem here, namely discrimination on grounds of religion.
13 - Commissioner for Complaints Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1969: To introduce legislation to establish machinery for the investigation of citizens’ grievances against local authorities and other public authorities. Action: The Commissioner for Complaints Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 became law on 26 November 1969. Under the Act, a Commissioner for Complaints was appointed to deal with citizens’ grievances against local councils and public bodies. The Commissioner, Mr. J. M. Benn, C.B., like the Parliamentary Commissioner, is independent of the Government and reports to the Northern Ireland Parliament. This machinery for the investigation of the citizens’ complaints has no counterpart either in Great Britain or thc Irish Republic. Three reports have been issued by the Commissioner (H.C. Nos. 2001, 2048, and 2101). In his Third Report, the Commissioner defined discrimination as the taking of a decision in favour for, or against, a person which is motivated by consideration of the person’s religious beliefs or political opinions. He went on to say that in most of the cases of alleged discrimination (only 6 per cent of the total number of complaints accepted for investigation) which he reported on, he was satisfied that the action complained of was not motivated by discrimination. The full text of this statement is contained in paragraphs 31-36 of the Commissioner’s Third Report (H.C. 2101).Background The Cameron Report was very specific on Catholic grievances against local councils and public bodies. The reports included among the immediate and precipitating causes of disorders (para 229):
'(2) Complaints, now well documented in fact of, discrimination in the making of local government appointments, at all levels but especially in senior posts, to the prejudice of non-Unionists and especially Catholic members of the community, in some Unionist controlled authorities. ‘(3) Complaints, again well documented, in some cases of deliberate manipulation of local government electoral boundaries and in others a refusal to apply for their necessary extension, in eider to achieve and maintain Unionist control of local authorities and so to deny to Catholics influence in local government proportionate to their numbers. ‘(4) A growing and powerful sense of resentment and frustration among the Catholic population at failure to achieve either acceptance on the part of the Government of any need to investigate these complaints or to provide and enforce a remedy for them.’The activities of local authorities were further referred to in para 231.
‘231. The other point on which we wish to comment is the manner of appointment of senior officials of the new local authorities. The necessary consequence of reducing the number of authorities and increasing their power in relation to their predecessors is to increase also the power and responsibilities of the leading officials. In these new circumstances the opportunity arises for giving serious consideration to the manner of their recruitment and appointment, and in particular whether this important function should ‘be left to the discretion of the elected authorities subject, in the case of top grade appointments, to approval of the Ministry of Development, or whether some central body or authority should not be responsible for the making of such appointments. We do not doubt - from what we saw and heard - that some such procedure on appointments would materially increase confidence in both the efficiency and impartiality of the local government administrators. Such a procedure would go far to assimilate at least senior posts in the reorganised local government to the structure of appointments in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. It would seem to us in light of all we have heard, that a good case could ‘be made for the creation of a ‘public service’ and for the discharge by it both of central and local government functions in the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, in view of its comparatively small population and of the nature and scope of the changes in local government structure which are now foreshadowed.Again Para 127 states:
‘127. It will be convenient to deal first with the part which the sense of resentment and grievances unredressed played in the causation of these outbreaks. In order to assess this, it is necessary to consider whether and to what extent that sense was artificially engendered or stimulated, and also the degree to which it appears to have a substantial ‘basis. The weight and extent of the evidence which was presented to us concerned with social and economic grievance or abuses of political power was such that we are compelled to conclude that they had substantial foundation in fact and were in a very real sense an immediate and operative cause of the demonstrations and consequent disorders after 5th Oct, 1968. For this reason we took careful note of this very large body of evidence coming as it did from many individuals and organisations, and in a number of cases supported by statistics and documents themselves factual and not open to challenge on the score of their accuracy. At the same time we have to emphasise that it was not within our power or remit to conduct a detailed enquiry or form concluded judgments into or upon individual claims of discrimination or abase of power ‘by prevalent majorities in certain local authorities, and we seek to pass no judgment on the many specific and individual eases which were brought under our notice. These in so far as they relate to matters of genuine grievance would appear to fail appropriately within the jurisdiction of the proposed machinery for dealing with grievances against local authorities. We should record however that in the evidence presented to us from many responsible individuals and bodies, predominantly Protestant and non-Nationalist in purpose or outlook, there was a frank recognition that this widespread sense of grievance among Catholic people in Northern Ireland was justified in fact and called urgently for remedy.’And see also page 24. Commentary The commentary on the Cameron Report published by the Northern Ireland Government (Cmd. 534) "promised that a system of investigation would be provided which would complement ‘the Parliamentary Commissioner system and would cover maladministration (in a broad sense) by local or public authorities, including any form of alleged improper bias or discrimination on any grounds by’ a public body or authority against a citizen." The resulting legislation was the Commissioner for Complaints Act (Northern Ireland) 1969, Which provided for complaints ‘by a person "who claims to have sustained injustice in consequence of maladministration" in connection with action taken ‘by a local or public ‘body in the exercise of the administrative functions of that ‘body. As in the case of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration this Act allows for an investigation of individual cases only, and cannot therefore take into account evidence of a broad pattern of discrimination although the promise of the government quoted above covers "maladministration in a broad sense." Accordingly, the Act has failed conspicuously to deal with continuing manifest injustices carried on by local authorities. The Cameron Report stated:
"In County Fermanagh no senior council posts (and relatively few others) were held by Catholics: this was rationalised by reference to ‘proven loyalty’ as a necessary test for local authority appointments. In that County, among seventy-five drivers of school ‘buses, at most seven were Catholics. This would appear to be a very clear case of sectarian and political discrimination." - par 138.The Commissioner for Complaints in his annual report for 1970 (H.C. 2101) dealt with a specific allegation (case 237/70) of discrimination by Fermanagh County Council against a Catholic.
‘22. I regarded with particular seriousness the complainant’s allegation that he had been discriminated against on religious grounds. When I put this allegation to the Chief Education Officer and the Transport Officer, they assured me that they were not aware that the complainant is a Roman Catholic. I was satisfied to accept these assurances and I have found no evidence to suggest that religion was a factor which played any part in the Council’s decision as to who should be appointed to the post of Foreman/Mechanic.’It would appear that in a case of this kind the Commissioner, to be effective, should be empowered to enquire into the overall position as to employment of Catholics by the person or body against whom the complaint is made. The Commissioner for Complaints did in fact seem to be approaching this position when in his second report (in Nov., 1970, H.C. 2048) he stated:
‘53. I have found it difficult in almost every ease of this kind so far to obtain factual information about the numbers of Protestants and Roman Catholics employed by the bodies concerned. Indeed the initial response to a request from me for information tends to be "We do not know how many Protestants and how many Catholics we employ. We never ask questions of this kind. And we do not think that we should be asked to find out." It is, however, to my mind unconvincing in the Northern Ireland situation for the head of a small office or other group of workers to claim not to know pretty accurately how many of his staff are Protestants and how many are Roman Catholics, and correspondingly for a chief officer to claim that he has no means of finding this out. ‘54. It is, course, sincerely to be hoped that the day may soon come when there will ‘be no need for questions of this kind to be asked. But so long as complaints of discrimination in employment are made and so long as it is my duty to investigate them, I fail to see how I can begin to tackle what is in any case an extremely difficult task, unless I can get the necessary factual information. I have therefore no option but to look for information of this kind in certain cases and to seek the co-operation of chief officers in helping me to obtain it.’A measure of the inadequacy of the Act is indicated by the fact that the Cameron Commission was able to discern clear patterns of discrimination in County Fermanagh and elsewhere but the Commissioner cannot take account of such patterns even when they are obvious to him. It is essential that amending legislation be introduced as a matter of urgency.
14 - Fair Representation Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1989: To assure the proper representation of minorities at the elected levels of government by completely fair electoral laws, practices and boundaries and at nominated and appointed levels by a recognition that such minorities have a right to an effective voice in affairs. Action: Before the Downing Street Declaration, an Electoral Law Bill (which subsequently became law on 25 November 1969) had already been introduced into the Northern Ireland Parliament to institute universal adult suffrage (or one man one vote) for local council elections, where the franchise had previously been restricted to ratepayers. It also introduced votes for all at the age of 18 in both Parliamentary and local council elections. Elections for the Stormont Parliament had always been on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The first full local government election under the new system is expected in late 1972 following the re-organisation of local government. Meanwhile under the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 which became law on 25 February 1971 all by-elections to local councils are being conducted on the basis of one man one vote and universal suffrage at the age of 18. In the context of local government re-organisation, local government boundaries are being re-drawn, as described in paragraph 27. The new Ministry of Community Relations has the task of keeping under review, in conjunction with other Departments, the question of fair representation of the whole community on public boards and bodies. The Minister of Community Relations has asked Members of Parliament for the names of representative people prepared to serve and has undertaken to give consideration to all such suggestions.Background There is in Northern Ireland a well documented history of discriminatory electoral laws, of manipulation of electoral boundaries, and of injustices in appointments and nominations by local authorities. These various malpractices have been condemned by the Cameron Commission and other responsible bodies. Commentary The various proposals introduced for a new local government electoral system, new local government boundaries and ward boundaries might be satisfactory in a normal democracy. But Northern Ireland is not a normal democracy. The commitment in the communique of 19 August 1969 is to ensure that "in all legislation and executive decisions of government every citizen of Northern Ireland is entitled to the same equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination as obtains in the rest of the United Kingdom, irrespective of politics views or religion". The two governments agreed "that it is vital that the momentum of internal reform should be maintained". It is essential that some system constitutionally guaranteed should be devised to ensure that the undertakings of two governments are given full force and effect. It is not sufficient for the Ministry of Community Relations to keep these vital matters "under review". Indeed this Ministry has neither the powers nor the personnel to carry out this task.
15 - Public Employment: The Northern Ireland Civil Service Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969: While it was recognised that the Northern Ireland Civil Service deservedly enjoyed a high reputation for fairness and impartiality in its employment practices, the Northern Ireland Government agreed to take action on a few minor aspects which might be open to criticism and to extend the powers of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration to cover personnel matters in the Civil Service. Action: Minor changes in relation to the composition and scope of the Civil Service Commission and to recruitment boards for the administrative, professional and executive classes have been introduced. The powers of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration are extended by Order in Council to cover personnel matters in the Civil Service with effect from 1 April 1970.Background These five sections are related to the single problem of discrimination in the public sector. The principles of open competition and promotion on merit in the civil service were laid down in the Northcote-Trevelyan Report in 1853 as follows:
"To provide, by a proper system of examination, for the supply of the public service with a thoroughly efficient class of men. To encourage industry and foster merit, by teaching all public servants to look forward to promotion according to their deserts, and to expect the highest prizes in the service if they can quality themselves for them."These basic principles were not implemented in the Northern Ireland Civil Service until 1963 one hundred and ten years after the Northcote-Trevelyan Report and forty-two years after the establishment of the Northern Ireland civil service. The net result of the pre-1963 recruitment policies in the Northern Ireland Civil Service was that by 1969 there was still only a tiny proportion of Catholics holding senior or mid-level posts. Unionist employment policy was laid down in the early years of the state. In March 1925, the Minister for Agriculture (Sir E. M. Archdale) when charged with employing Catholics defended himself by saying:
"I have 109 officials, and so far as I know, four of them are Roman Catholics, three of whom were Civil Servants turned over to me, whom I had to take on when we began"On 12 July 1933 John M. Andrews, then Minister for Labour said:
"Another allegation made against the Government, and which is untrue, is that of 31 porters at Stormont, 28 are Roman Catholics. I have investigated the matter and I have found that there are 30 Protestants, and only one Roman Catholic, there only temporarily. "It has been stated that the two gate-lodges at Stormont are occupied by Roman Catholics. The truth is that they are occupied by two Protestant disabled ex-servicemen."The Cameron Commission’s observations on discriminatory employment practices in local government were as follows:
"We are satisfied that all these Unionist controlled councils have used and use their power to make appointments in a way which benefited Protestants. In the figures available for October 1968 only thirty per cent of Londonderry Corporation’s administrative, clerical and technical employees were Catholics. Out of the ten best-paid posts only one was held by a Catholic. In Dungannon Urban District none of the Council’s administrative, clerical and technical employees was a Catholic. In County Fermanagh no senior council posts (and relatively few others) were held by Catholics: this was rationalised by reference to ‘proven loyalty’ as a necessary test for local authority appointments. In that County, among about seventy-five drivers of school buses, at most seven were Catholics. This would appear to be a very clear case of sectarian and political discrimination. Armagh Urban District employed very few Catholics in its salaried posts, but did not appear to discriminate at lower levels. Omagh Urban District showed no clearcut pattern of discrimination, though we have seen what would appear to be undoubted evidence of employment discrimination by Tyrone County Council. "It is fair to note that Newry Urban District, which is controlled by non-Unionists, employed very few Protestants. But two wrongs do not make a right; Protestants who are in the minority, in the Newry area by contrast to the other areas we have specified, do not have a serious unemployment problem, and in Newry there are relatively few Protestants, whereas in the other towns Catholics make up a substantial part of the population. It is also right to note that in recent years both Londonderry and Newry have introduced a competitive examination system in local authority appointments." (para 138).Many detailed statistics of discrimination in local government were published prior to 1969 by the Northern Ireland Campaign for Social Justice and by various civil rights bodies. A classic example of discrimination in County Tyrone, where Catholics are in the majority, was published in the Ulster Herald on 16 August 1969 and is reproduced in Appendix 2. At that date only one Catholic was employed in the County Education Office out of a total administrative staff of eighty-six. Commentary The reform required is equality of employment opportunity in the public sector irrespective of religious or political consideration. The five "reforms" in the White Paper do nothing to achieve the necessary immediate objective of a major correction of the imbalance in the employment of Catholics at every level of the public service. Today, some two years after the specific commitment on equality of treatment, there are still certain areas of the civil service which are closed to Catholics.
- There are no Catholics holding senior rank in any of the establishment divisions of any Ministry. - There are no Catholics in the private office of any Minister. - There are no Catholics in the senior ranks of the professional grades of the Ministry of Finance.The proportion of Catholics in the administrative and professional grades of the service is negligible. For example although Catholics constitute about 45% of the school population in Northern Ireland there are only seven Catholics among fifty-one School inspectors in the Ministry of Education. Little has been done to deal effectively with the results of discrimination practised in local government over many years. Almost without exception every senior officer of every county borough council and county council is a Protestant. Even if fair appointment and promotion procedures are now operated in both central and local government it will be ten to fifteen years before Catholics are available in sufficient numbers inside these services for promotion to senior posts. It is therefore essential that Catholics of proven administrative ability should now be recruited or seconded from the professions or elsewhere to senior posts in the public service. Proposals to this effect have so far been firmly resisted. The commitment to require public bodies to make a declaration of equality of employment opportunity was made necessary when the Northern Ireland government found that its protestations that such equality existed were no longer credible after the specific finding of the Cameron Commission, and the publication by the Campaign for Social Justice in Northern Ireland and by various civil rights bodies of detailed statistics of gross inequalities in employment of Catholics. However, the commitment is not sufficient to deal with the evil. As the second report of the Commissioner for Complaints (HC 2O48) states,
"It is not difficult for a body if so inclined to profess policies of impartial selection and to point to ostensibly proper procedures whilst yet following discriminatory practices" (para. 51).What is clearly necessary is a system for the monitoring of employment practices over a period of time. The body responsible for such investigations should be obliged to report to Parliament where it finds evidence of serious unbalance in employment in any department of the civil service, or of any public or local authority. It is significant that two years after the commitment to require public bodies to adopt an approved code of employment procedure, the model codes are still only "in the course of adoption" by local authorities, and in fact approximately fifty per cent of local authorities have still not adopted the required code. Some local authorities, which have adopted a code, indicated that they were merely reaffirming their existing employment policies. This has consequently damaged the value of the declaration in the eyes of Catholics, who have been aware of the discriminatory policies of these authorities. Codes of employment procedure are virtually useless, unless there is machinery for ensuring that the procedure is being implemented. There is no such machinery at present. The declaration and codes do not provide an effective safeguard against discrimination and are considered by Catholics to be quite inadequate for this purpose. In fact they may well be harmful in that they give the false impression that they constitute adequate safeguards. The proposal to appoint a permanent statutory Local Government Staff Commission "to assist local authorities in the selection of candidates for senior and designated appointments" is claimed to be a reform although there is no admission in the White Paper that some machinery is necessary to prevent continued discrimination in such appointments. The Government admits that no action has beta taken to implement this commitment, although it now promises to introduce the necessary legislation later this year. The Interim Staff Commission is not intended or designed to ensure that adequate numbers of Catholics will soon be taken into public employment. Its terms of reference are:
"To advise on the steps necessary to ensure the smooth transfer of staff front local authorities and the Northern Ireland Housing Trust to the proposed Central Housing Authority and to such Other new authorities as may be established for the administration of local services and in particular - (a) to advise on the filling of senior and designated posts falling vacant in the interim and transitional period before final decisions on the future administration of local services are taken and implemented; (b) to keep under review the arrangements for the recruitment of staff by the new authorities and for the transfer of staff from existing local authorities and the Housing Trust to the proposed Central Housing Authority and to such other new authorities as are established; (c) to advise on the steps necessary to safeguard the interests of all staff likely to be affected by the transfer of local services; (d) to consider such other staffing problems arising out of the transfer of local services as may be referred by the Ministries concerned."As there are few Catholics presently employed by public bodies or local authorities the Interim Staff Commission is unable to ensure that further qualified Catholics are quickly brought into employment. An examination by the Ministry of Finance of the proposal to create a Public Service Commission mentioned in white paper cannot be accepted as a satisfactory implementation of the commitment. Here again the matter has been delayed by the technique of shelving implementation until a report has been received from a working party which has not yet met. The overall position therefore in the field of public employment is that effective action has not been taken to redress the effects of discrimination practised over many years or to ensure that such discrimination will be outlawed in the future: A permanent Public Service Commission should be established forthwith with the necessary powers and adequate staff to achieve both objectives.
20. - Anti-discrimination clause in Government contracts Commitment in the Communique of 10 October, 1969: To introduce an anti-discrimination clause in all Northern Ireland Government contracts. Action: On 22 June, 1971, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland announced that those tendering for any Northern Ireland Government contract advertised after that date will be required to complete an undertaking not to practise any form of religious discrimination in the performance of the contract. A similar requirement will apply to a contract where the Northern Ireland Government meets one hundred per cent, of the cost and another body acts as its agent. No tenders will be considered from a contractor who falls to complete the undertaking. Any person who considers he has been discriminated against in his employment or intended employment may complain to the Department which has appointed that contractor who will refer the complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for investigation.Background It is clear from the government communique of 10 October 1969 that the Westminster government wanted to ensure that not only would discriminatory practices be eliminated within the public service but that they ‘would also be eliminated where public money was being used but where the government was not the direct employer. Commentary The Communique of 9 and 10 October 1969 guaranteed an anti-discrimination on clause in all Northern Ireland government contracts, but in paragraph 18 (b) the Communique makes it clear that in those parts of public employment where the government is not the direct employer each employing body will be required to make a declaration that its aim is to have equality for employment opportunity without regard to "religious or political" considerations. It should be noted that the present white paper refers to "an undertaking not to practice any form of "religious discrimination" in the performance of a contract. The word political is omitted. The form of undertaking presented by the government will enable an employer, in pursuance of the Brookeborough formula (Page 4), to reject a prospective employee on the basis that he is a "nationalist," a "republican" or a "socialist" and not because he is a Catholic. A further point is that it will be possible, so far as one can infer from the white paper, for a contractor to give an undertaking ,not to practise any form of religious discrimination in the performance of a particular public contract but at the same time to practise discrimination in other contracts which are not public. The procedure for complaints is the same as that dealt with in paragraph 13 relating to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. As was emphasised in paragraph 13 it is virtually impossible to establish a complaint based on religious discrimination in an individual case. Many public authorities have not yet required contractors to sign the promised undertaking. Once again the Northern Ireland government delayed (from October, 1969, to June, 1971) in implementing this necessary reform.
21.- Review of other forms of discrimination Commitment in the Communique to 10 October, 1969: To consider what future action to prevent discrimination in other fields might be desirable. Action: Action has already been taken, as described in the preceding paragraph, to prevent discrimination in employment within the private sector in relation to Government contracts. The Government has now begun. to turn its attention to the possibility of further initiatives in the private sector. Progress in preventing discrimination within that part of the private sector which is not directly amenable to Government control depends on the active co-operation of employers and the trade union movement, and account has to be taken of practical problems in a wide variety of different locations and circumstances. It is important to distinguish discriminatory practices as such from the whole complex of factors such as accidents of location, the particular blend of industrial skills required in the labour force, or traditional methods of recruitment - which affect the. balance of employment in any given concern. Accordingly, further detailed consultation with representative employer and trade union interests will be required to determine the most practicable means of ensuing continued progress in this field.Background Discrimination in the private sector is at least as serious as in the public sector, although statistics are more difficult to obtain. This has been so from the beginning of the state. Employers were exhorted to practise discrimination against Catholics by Prime Ministers and other Cabinet Ministers. For example Lord Brookeborough when Minister of Agriculture said in July, 1933:
"Many in the audience employ Catholics but I have not one about my place. Catholics are out to destroy Ulster with all their might and power."and again in March, 1934:
"When I made that declaration last ‘twelfth’ I ‘did so after careful consideration. What I said was Justified. I recommended people not to employ Roman Catholics, who were 99 per cent disloyal."The large industrial concerns in Belfast have an overwhelming proportion of Protestant workers. For example Harland & Wolff’s shipyard employs fewer than 300 Catholic workers out of a total work force of 10,000. Sirocco Engineering Works and James Mackie & Co., Ltd., show a comparable imbalance. Commentary Very little has been done since 1969 to prevent discrimination in private employment. The trade union movement has indicated that it considers that a Bill of Human Rights is essential before any real progress can be made in this area. Such a statute would embody the basic commitment to equally of citizenship. It would also include a code of fair employment practices and the guidelines in respect of recruitment and promotion policies. It is envisaged that the Community Relations Commission or some other independent body should be given the necessary statutory powers to investigate and report on progress towards the stated aims. The commission should have specialised staff in the field of conciliation and it should be required to publish reports on those firms and trade unions which did not cooperate in the elimination of discrimination. A disconcerting feature of this section of the white paper is the attempt to justify discriminatory practices on the ‘basis of "accidents of location, the particular blend of industrial skills required in the labour force, or traditional methods of recruitment." The suggestion by the Prime Minister, Mr. Brian Faulkner, that the paucity of Catholics employed in the shipyard is due to the yard’s location in a predominantly Protestant area is at variance with the fact that the labour force is drawn from the whole Belfast conurbation. Past discriminatory practices have created circumstances where Catholics have found it difficult to get the opportunity to acquire the technical skills for certain industries. Some trades are almost exclusively Protestant. Vincent Hanna writing in the Sunday Times 5 July, 1970, on Harland and Wolff observed, 'Traditionally, therefore, only Protestants serve in the skilled trades and the ‘black’ trades of boilermaking, plating, etc., have always been a Protestant preserve dominated ‘by the Orange Order. There is even a Shipwright’s Lodge of the Order which ‘still marches on 12 July." The phrase "traditional methods of recruitment" is a euphemism. In the same article Hanna notes:
"Traditionally also ‘the work in Belfast shipyard was controlled by the shipyard ‘bosses’ who ‘were bowler-hatted foremen who hired and fired, awarded piece work and ensured promotion. They used the Orange Order as a system of patronage which the unions say is only now being eradicated and which has conditioned workers’ attitudes for over a century."The trade union movement in Northern Ireland has consistently played a leading role in trying to remove discriminatory practices from the industrial scene. However, that movement as Stated above is conscious of ‘the need for specific statutory support in a Bill of Human Rights. The failure of the Government to tackle this problem is a matter of grave concern.
22. - Housing allocation Commitment in tile Communique of 29 August 1969: To introduce a points scheme for housing allocation as originally proposed in the five point reform programme announced by the Northern Ireland Government in November, 1968. Action: The Ministry of Development has prepared a model points scheme which was accepted as being soundly based in the 10 October Communique. In the interim period before the effective operation of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Northern Ireland Government has ensured that all public authority housing is allocated on a points scheme, based on the Ministry of Development’s model code. The creation of a Northern Ireland Housing Executive, discussed in paragraph 26, was also designed, amongst many other things, to end allegations of sectarian discrimination in housing allocations.Background Facts readily available over a period of years showed massive discrimination both in house building and in house allocations by a number of Local Authorities particularly Londonderry Corporation, Londonderry Rural Council, Fermanagh County Council and Dungannon Urban and Rural Councils. Commentary A points scheme properly administered should ensure fair allocation of houses. All Councils now have point schemes but in some cases there are loopholes which give rise to opportunities for unfairness. Dungannon Rural District Council for instance is one of a number of Councils that divides its District into areas. Applicants may apply for a house in one only of these areas and find great difficulty and delay in changing their preferred area if houses become available in another area more quickly. It can therefore happen that an applicant with say twenty points in one area can be housed immediately while in another area, a mile or two away, an applicant with forty points may have to wait some years for accommodation. Fermanagh County Council have continued to be criticised for house allocations and there was a sharp debate in the Northern Ireland House of Commons as recently as 10 June 1971 about the transfer of a Protestant from one house to another when apparently valid Catholic claims had been overlooked.
23. - Ministry of Community Relations Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1989: To designate a Minister with special responsibility for community relations. Action: A Ministry of Community Relations was set up under the Ministry of Community Relations (Northern Ireland) Act 1969 which became law on 28 October 1969. The first Minister of Community Relations, Dr. Robert Simpson, M.P., was initially appointed as a Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Department, before the creation of his Ministry. Mr. David Bleakley succeeded Dr. Simpson on 25 March, 1971. The Ministry has been involved in monitoring the progress of work in implementing the Joint Communiques, in advising other Departments on community relations aspects of their work, in carrying out its obligations in relation to the Community Relations Commission, and in administering the Social Need (Grants) Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 which became law on 9 June 1970 and empowers the Ministry to pay grants normally of 75 per cent. to local authorities and voluntary bodies for projects designed to improve social amenities in urban areas suffering from social deprivation.Background Only in very recent years has the Ulster Unionist Party admitted that there is a problem of community relations in Northern Ireland. As mentioned above (page 6) the first reference to the problem in the Ulster Unionist Party policy documents appeared in their Declaration of Principle and Statement of Policies published in support of their campaign for the 1969 general election as follows:
"The Party will work to heal those divisions in our community which have so far prevented Northern Ireland from fulfilling its best hopes."This represented a very late recognition of the problem. Commentary The creation of the Community Relations Commission is a very welcome innovation in Northern Ireland and, within the limited powers available to them, the Ministry of Community Relations and the Community Relations Commission have made valiant efforts to carry out the tasks entrusted to them. There does appear, however, to be a certain confusion in the public mind between the functions of the Ministry and the functions of the Commission. The respective powers and functions of the Ministry and of the Commission should be made dear to the public. The white paper is in error when it states that half of the members of the Commission are Catholics. In fact there are four Catholics out of ten members. The Commission has a responsibility to carry out a major role in the field of Community Relations. This should go much further than "convening conferences" and "sponsoring research". The shortcomings in the legal powers given to the Commission constitute a source of considerable danger in that the existence of an official body entitled "Community Relations Commission" gives the impression that an effective instrument of reform has been created. The Commission should be entrusted with a responsibility of policing the various promises as to equality of opportunity in public and private employment. It should be authorized to investigate the pattern of employment in any concern either public or private and, where there is apparent bias (as shown by the numbers employed and by their status) to enter into discussions with representatives of management and employees in an attempt through pressures both legal and moral to rectify the position. If such conciliation fails the Commission’s findings should be reported to parliament. Only when such powers are given to it can the Commission carry out its work effectively.
25. - Incitement to Religious Hatred Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969: To keep under review the adequacy of the existing law against incitement. Action: The Incitement to Hatred Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 became law on 2 July, 1970. The Act imposes penalties for incitement to hatred and fur the circulation of certain false statements or false reports.Background The need for an act to prevent religious hatred was well recognised in Northern Ireland and the commitment in the communique of 10 October 1969 was widely welcomed in a community in which religious and political rabble rousers have always been a nuisance and often a serious threat to the peace of the community. Commentary The white paper refers to the Act as being "The Incitement to Hatred Act (Northern Ireland) 1970." The Act of course aims not to incite to hatred but to prevent each incitement and is named the ‘Prevention of Incitement to Hatred Act (Northern Ireland) 1970." Unfortunately the act has been completely useless in practice and the reasons therefor have been succinctly set out in Parliament by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, Basil Kelly, Q.C. He was reported in Hansard volume 78 No. 15 on 3 February 1971 as follows:
In order to found a prosecution under Section 1 of the Act, one must, firstly, show that the words published or used are threatening, abusive or insulting. But this is only the start. One must then show that they are likely to stir up hatred - not, as I have said, simply distaste or odium - and stir up hatred not against an individual or a number of persons but against a section of the public of Northern Ireland. And, further, this hatred must be hatred against people, not against a religious denomination or a church or a society, secret or otherwise. Then there is perhaps the most important element of all and in many eases the most difficult of proof, that the person who, when he publishes or uses the words must have the intent to stir up hatred against a section of the public in Northern Ireland… In other words - and the hon. Members opposite must recognise this - a person may use abusive language which is likely to stir up racial or religious hatred but the circumstances may show that he had no intent to stir up racial or religious hatred.No further comment is necessary. The Government commitment has not been met.
26. - The Northern Ireland Housing Executive Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969: To establish a Central Housing Authority. Action: The Housing Executive Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 Which provides for all public authority house-building and allocation to ho the responsibility of one central housing organisation, became law on 25 February 197L The house-building target of the Five-Year Development Programme (1970-75) is 73,500 at a cost of nearly £300 million. This will represent a steep increase on existing output, even though the output of all Sew dwellings in the financial year 1970-71 was in itself a record figure of over 13,000. The appointment of Mr. Desmond Lorimer as chairman of the new Housing Executive was announced on 4 March 1971. Five other members have been appointed by the Ministry of Development. The remaining three come from the Housing Council, a new advisory body representative of existing housing authorities. The membership of the completed Executive was announced on 6 May 1971. The first full meeting was held within a week and the Executive at once undertook a study of the problems facing it. After extensive consultations, the Executive has publicly announced the programme which it wishes to carry out for taking over responsibility from existing housing authorities: (a) The Executive will assume all the functions of the Northern Ireland Housing Trust on 1 October 1971; (b) The Executive will assume all the housing functions of the Belfast Corporation about January 1972; (c) The remaining local authorities having housing functions will become agents of the Executive under its policy control about April 1972; (d) The functions of these authorities will be taken over fully not later than October 1972; (e) Finally, the housing functions of the three Development Commissions will be taken over not later than April 1973. A full statement was issued by Northern Ireland Housing Executive on 2 August 1971 on the progress made by the Executive and of its proposals for the assumption over a phased period of its full functions and responsibilities.Background
The establishment of the Central Housing Authority was made necessary by the failure of some local authorities in Northern Ireland to build houses where necessary and by a failure to allocate houses fairly.Commentary The establishment of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive has been widely welcomed and it hoped that the Executive will be able to deal with the housing situation both by new building and by renovation and improvement of existing housing stock. It is essential that housing allocations and transfers will be made on a basis that is seen to be fair and just. It is also essential that house building be commenced immediately where new houses are necessary. Recent Annual Reports at the Northern Ireland Housing Trust (the Government Agency which is being taken over by the new Executive) indicate that the Trust experienced difficulties in obtaining the necessary permissions to build in some areas. The executive must not be impeded in a similar way.
27. - Local Government reorganisation Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969. Although the process of local government reorganisation was started several years before the Downing Street Declaration, the decision to establish a Northern Ireland Housing Executive had such important consequences that it was necessary to re-examine the whole sphere of local government reorganisation. For this re-examination, the Northern Ireland Government undertook to set up a Review Body which would be broadly based and include representatives of the two main religious denominations as well as of business, professional and trade union interests to review in conjunction with the Ministries in Northern Ireland and local authorities, current proposals for reshaping local administration and to advise on the most efficient distribution of the relevant functions under the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland. This step was supported by the United Kingdom Government. Action An independent Review Body under the chairmanship of Mr. Patrick Macrory was appointed by the Minister of Development on 17 December, 1969. Its Report, completed on 29 May 1970, was debated in Parliament in October 197O, after which the Government carried out an intensive study of the recommendations in the Report and Parliamentary and public reactions to them. A major statement, made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 17 December, 1970, laid down the principles on which a radical re-shaping of all local administration was to take place. Broadly, functions of a regional character such as health, personal social services, education, planning, roads, water, sewerage, fire service, electricity, electoral arrangements and many others were to be administered on a regional footing for the whole of Northern Ireland, while functions of a local or district character were to be administered on a local footing by twenty-six new District Councils operating in a new single-tier local government system. These decisions were subsequently debated in the House of Commons in January 1971 and given general endorsement. Since then an intensive programme of action has followed. Consultative Documents seeking to convert the principles of re-organisation into detailed administrative proposals were published in March and April 1971. A Local Government Consultative Committee representing the various categories of Local Authority has been actively at work, directly and through various sub-committees and working parties. The first legislative step was embodied in the Local Government Boundaries Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 which provided for the appointment by His Excellency the Governor of a Boundaries Commissioner to recommend the boundaries and names of the twenty-six District Councils indicated in the Act and also the electoral districts or wards into which they are to be divided. The Act became law on 23 March 1971 and shortly afterwards a distinguished Lawyer, Mr. F. A. L. Harrison, Q.C., was appointed as Boundaries Commissioner. He commenced work at once. Time limits are embodied in the Statute with a view to ensuring that arrangements are in readiness for elections to he held to the new District Councils by the autumn of 1972, on new boundaries, new wards, universal franchise and votes at eighteen. The Queen’s Speech at the Opening of the new Session of Parliament on 22 June 1971 summarized the many legislative measures which will be necessary to give effect to the widespread programme of re-organisation replacing the historic system of seventy-three local authorities by new regional and local arrangements and transferring some forty thousand local government staff to new employers. This quite unprecedented task is to be completed by 1 April 1973 when the Housing Executive, the five Area Education Boards, the four Health and Social Service Boards, the Ministry of Development regional services, the Ministry of Finance Regional Rating service and the twenty-six District Councils will all come into full operation.Background No commentary is necessary on the background to the necessity for local government reforms in Northern Ireland. Commentary The commitment in the communique of 10 October 1969 on the action outlined in the white paper is very welcome. However, in the light of past experience the implementation of each item of reform must be closely watched in order to achieve the basic commitment of equality of citizenship.
28. - A New Committee System for the Northern Ireland Parliament. The White Paper makes reference to "a new and important initiative not arising from either the Downing Street Declaration of the subsequent communiques." This was the Prime Minister’s proposal announced on 22nd June. 1971 for the establishment of three functional committees of the House of Commons covering the fields of Social Services, Environmental Services and Industrial Services. ‘Of the three functional committees, plus the Public Accounts Committee, the Opposition should provide at least two chairmen. These would be salaried posts.’Parliamentary committees are a well-established feature of the American and British parliamentary systems. The Prime Minister’s proposal would be a useful development of parliamentary institutions in a normal society, and its value to such circumstances is not underestimated. However, in the present Northern Ireland context it appears to be rather irrelevant. Something much more fundamental is required to achieve the commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1969 to secure:
"Proper representation of minorities, to be assured at the elected levels of government by completely fair electoral laws, practices and boundaries, and at nominated or appointed levels by a recognition that such minorities have a right to an effective voice in affairs."
In a statement Messrs. O’Neill and Coll say:"The factual statistics released today concerning employment in County Tyrone Education Offices should leave no one here, or in any country in the world where these published facts are read, in any doubt whatsoever that religious discrimination is widely practised by local government authorities in Northern Ireland. "These hard cold facts will be widely read, digested and discussed by many people. All fair minded people who read them., regardless of their race or religion, will be abhorred not only by the fact that these figures provide irrefutable and indubitable, proof of religious discrimination, but by the extent to which this injustice is practised in our community. It is sad, indeed sickening, to reflect that in Co. Tyrone, which has a Catholic majority, Catholics are totally excluded from employment in the field of education with one single exception. Salaries (excluding the part-time employees and the superannuated) total cost £81,306, and of this £2,440 goes to the sole Catholic official.
Northern Ireland. Parliament. (1971) A Record of Constructive Change, (Cmd. 558), (20 August 1971). Belfast: HMSO.
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