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Criticism of Orange Order report into 'discrimination' in Civil Service

Drew Nelson wants a meeting with the civil service in the wake of the report's findings

THERE was criticism last night of an Orange Order report which claims that Mass cards and talk of Gaelic games sparks fear among some of its members working in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

The organisation has called for a meeting with civil service chiefs following its own investigation into the treatment of Protestants in the workplace.

It said in some departments it found complaints of discrimination and a prevailing nationalist ethos.

The report 'Fairness and Fear: An Investigation of the treatment of Protestants in the Northern Ireland Civil Service' was conducted over the past two years with statements from 25 individuals across five departments.

It gleaned information from responses to Freedom of Information requests.

Among the complaints were that Catholic members of staff deemed it acceptable to display Mass cards at their desks while other respondants said it was "unfair" that talk of GAA games was commonplace in the workplace on a Monday.

It said colleagues often discussed religion, children's confirmations and came into work with ashes on their forehead.

Orange Lodge Grand Secretary Drew Nelson complained yesterday that this created a "cold house" for Protestants.

"The issue is people in the Catholic community feel free to talk about it," he told the BBC's Nolan Show.

"There is nothing offensive in talking about a child's confirmation. A cold house arises when the ethos of conversation becomes overwhelming emanating from one side of the community.

"Our members are telling me that they would be afraid, they would be ostracised, possibly victimised if they went in on a Monday morning and started talking about an Orange Order parade."

But callers to the radio show reacted angrily branding the claims "absolutely ludicrous".

Another said the claims in the report were "unbelievable".

"What is offensive about talking about a sporting event, where are we going to draw the line," the caller said.

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