Employment in Northern Ireland

Discrimination of Catholics by Protestants also occurred in the workplace. One example of this discrimination in the workplace is through the hiring processes. During an interview in the hiring process, many times they asked what school the person went to. If the school had saint in the name, they knew you were Catholic. As a result, the majority of the time they were passed over for being Catholic and going to a Catholic school. Protestants received priority over Catholics when searching for jobs. Many Catholics were placed in poor working conditions. Some of these harsh working conditions included long work hours, and unequal pay. Most of the time, Catholics were not employed in positions of higher power within the workplace, and did not receive promotions.

In the 1960s, an economic recession occurred in Great Britain. This resulted in an increased rivalry for jobs between the Catholics and the Protestants. The loyalists argued that because Northern Ireland had profited from their connections, such as trade with Great Britain, then the jobs should be reserved for those who were loyal to Great Britain. During this recession unemployment was high, and there were many people looking for jobs. Protestants were fearful that the Catholics were taking their jobs away from them, so firms would not hire them because they’d rather give the job a “good” Protestant. Due to many Catholics not having work, many of them were very poor which made them anxious of their lives in this society where the government system set in place blatantly discriminated against them.

Due to jobs given to mostly Protestants, especially government jobs, the Royal Ulster Auxiliary was 90% Protestant which did not help with discrimination of Catholics. In 1922 the Special Powers Act enacted which made it possible for police to arrest people without a warrant, send them to prison without a trial, and unlimited search powers. When tensions ran high this act law made Catholics fearful of what could happen to them. When the civil rights movement started and peaceful marches were breaking out into violence, policeman did very little to help the Catholics from the violence. In many cases they watched and did nothing. Bernadette Devlin watched a policeman look on as four Protestants and beat a protester in the incident of Burntollet Bridge. The Catholics knew that they had no government system in place to help them.

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