Thursday, June 15, 2006

Scrap The Crown From Civil Service Uniforms

Alas I have been absent from the blogosphere for a couple of days, but I'm back now so here we go:

Apparently the SDLP has uncovered yet more evidence of institutional disrespect towards nationalists in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. It seems that despite the years of equality legislation and lip-service being paid to the concept of neutral working environments, there continues to be a custom whereby unionist expression of culture is taken to be the norm, despite the fact that nationalists don't identify with it.

Whether it's overt or subtle, it seems that nationalists (and indeed republicans in the strictist sense) are still being forced to walk the establishment walk, or get out.

A prime example of these backward and biased workplace practices is the fact that civil service security staff are obliged to wear crown insignia on their uniforms. It should therefore come as no surprise that fewer than 10% of them are of a Catholic community background.

The SDLP’s Patricia Lewsley said: “A neutral working environment is a basic right. Every workplace should be free of sectarian symbols so everybody can feel comfortable.

“That’s why bunting is no longer allowed in the workplace. It’s why the PSNI no longer wear Crown insignia. So it’s a disgrace to find that the civil service are still obliging their security guards to wear Crown insignia in this day and age. And it’s no surprise to find out that less than 10% of security staff come from a Catholic background.

“The Civil Service is meant to be leading on equality. Yet clearly they are dragging their heels. And by failing to provide a neutral environment they may well be breaking the law. They are certainly cocking a snoop at the Equality Commission’s code of practice.

“Equality is a right - it’s time the civil service respected it.”

Unionists should not see this as a ‘further attempt to erode their identity’. The civil service and its associated regalia is not part of unionist culture- it is a public service that is funded by us all, and should therefore be neutral. Just as I wouldn’t expect security guards to wear a harp logo, even though I see the north as Irish, I would expect that level-headed unionists would agree that civil servants shouldn’t wear a crown logo, even if they believe that the north is British.

I hope that all nationalist parties continue to highlight issues such as this. I can understand that for tactical reasons unionists would not be vocal in calling for such changes, but I would certainly hope that at least the Ulster Unionists would not be vocal in opposing reform.

The diabolical figures for Catholic membership of certain sectors of the civil service such as security prove the need for reform.


iluvni said...

I'd have serious questions as to the suitability in a 'security role' of someone who, for political reasons, refuses to wear or has serious issues with the 'crown insignia' on his Civil Service Security Uniform.

El Matador said...

Why is that iluvni? Are nationalists not allowed to feel uncomfortable with a symbol which goes agianst their beliefs? Are democrats not allowed to feel uncomfortable with a symbol that represents an anti-democratic institution? Are republicans not allowed to feel uncomfortable with a symbol of imperialism? Do you have a problem with the concept of a neutral working environment which is neither aligned to unionist or nationalist beliefs?

Or do you just agree with Basil Brooke that employers should only take on 'Protestant lads and lasses'?

iluvni said...

The integrity and suitability of someone who has issues with the Crown on their Uniform should of course be called into question....I want people in such positions to be loyal to the country and civil service they are charged with protecting.

Any other situation is ludicrous.
Look what happened at the Northern.

Petty Nationalist mopery and sensibilities cant take precedence over proper security.
We've all paid too high a price in the past.

El Matador said...

"The integrity and suitability of someone who has issues with the Crown on their Uniform should of course be called into question."

In other words every nationalist. So simply because I have no allegiance to the Queen, I should be banned from working at the door of a dole office or planning office, despite the fact that my taxes pay for it? Are you saying that only those who describe themselves as British should be allowed to work for the north biggest employer?

You people never learn. Do you not realise that it's idiocy such as this which caused all the problems here in the first place?! Nationalists aren't trying to put unionists down- they simply want parity of esteem. You, on the other hand, clearly don't want a taig about the place unless they submit to Union Jack-worship.

Anyway, why would one have to have loyalty to an undemocratic Queen to remove troublemakers from a Housing Executive office.

And just one more point- if a loyalist with a crown tattoo (but no criminal conviction for loyalist offences) applied for a civil service security job, should he be appointed ahead of me on account of his apparent love of his 'Britishness'?

If you want to secure the statelet of NI, do you not think that it might actually be an idea to actually make nationalists feel that they are welcome and equal, rather than pushing them even further towards a United Ireland?

iluvni said...

Oh what a load of mope ballix.
Your whole approach, and this whole issue reeks of more pathetic efforts by sdlp to hollow out yet another teeny weeny wee bit of any manifestation of the British presence in dress it up as 'parity of esteem' but its far from that, and whats worse, you know that too.

Like it or not, you are in NI, part of the UK and those you are stirring it on behalf of are employees of the UK Civil Service.
Its their choice to apply for those security forces them to. Maybe throwing thugs out of a dole office mightnt be too sensitive a job, but there are many more areas where security personnel have access too which I dont particularly feel should be open to those who have no allegiance (in fact have downright hostility) to the state they are there to serve and protect.

Nationalists have to get to grips with the realities of NI...the majority clearly intend to remain a part of the UK. Thats not going to change any time in the forseeable future either despite your fondest wishes. As such, symbols of Britishness, (minor and petty as the one you feel the need to start a crusade about) are perfectly valid and acceptable and should in no way be removed to appease those who claim to have no affiliation to them.

Stop trying to out-green Sinn Fein.

El Matador said...

pOh dear oh dear. Any attempt to fight for the rights of nationalists is characterised as an attempt to 'outgreen' SF. Quelle surprise. Just like unionist attempts to demonise the Civil Rights Movement. Some things never change.

Where in my post am I trying to 'outgreen' anyone? Did I call for a harp to replace the crown? No. I simply called for a neutral emblem, like we have for the PSNI and NI Assembly. Is the concept of equality too much for you to bear?

Taking your point about those 'disloyal' not being worthy of employment in jobs involving national security or stability, does that mean nationalists shouldn't be allowed to sit at Westminster? After all, it is the ultimate arbiter and legislator on all things to do with the UK, so surely someone who has no regard for the Queen should be banned from influencing it by your reckoning.

My, my- one is being rather undemocratic today, isn't one? Sure why don't you go the full hog and undo the Catholic Emancipation and force the taigs back into the ditches?

iluvni said...

What's next on the sdlp mope list...will you be calling for the renaming of Queens University on behalf of your poor oppressed people?

El Matador said...

I have no problem with the university being called Queen's. After all, it was opened under the reign of Queen Victoria. I have no desire to delete history- indeed, I am fully aware of how Irish history has been altered to suit particular political ends. After all, one would have nearly thought for the past 85 years that no nationalists fought in the Great War, when in fact tens of thousands did.

My key motivator is the goal of creating a working environment whereby nationalists, unionists, and those in neither camp can work without either side feeling that their identity is being promoted or relegated. It is the work which suffers, and indeed the ability of agencies to recruit the highest quality candidates, if certain sections of the community feel they are being relegated to the position of poor relation. That situation is in no-one's interests.

iluvni said...

"After all, one would have nearly thought for the past 85 years that no nationalists fought in the Great War, when in fact tens of thousands did."

yes, but who was it that tried to deny/ignore this fact? certainly wasnt the Unionist population of NI. It was the leadership of your community...the politicians, the Church, Dublin which refused to acknowledge their sacrifice due to the intense hatred of anything remotely British...a trait which unfortunately your pathetic position on crown insignia shows still exists and flourishes in your mindset today.

Anonymous said...

"My key motivator is the goal of creating a working environment whereby nationalists, unionists, and those in neither camp can work without either side feeling that their identity is being promoted or relegated."

If parity of esteem is achieved then will Northern Ireland cease being a flawed political entity?

El Matador said...


As I say, I wish to achieve equality and parity of esteem, and to achieve a neutral working environment. Those are inalienable rights. That is the key motivator behind my posting of this article.

With regards to the national question, my ultimate goal is a united 32-county democratic republic. This must be achieved under the GFA, but until that point, I believe that there must be equality.

Anonymous said...

Why is a recognition that NI is part of the country that has the Queen head of state "disrespect" to anyone? If I was to work in the Republic any sign that it wuld have in its public life or public servces that recognised that it was a republic etc, would not make me feel in the least disrespected.

Aileen said...

oops that was me

El Matador said...


Because as far as nationalists are concerned, NI shouldn't be part of the UK. However, we have agreed to the concept that it should remain so until a majority of people in the (artificial) state of NI agree otherwise. Notwithstanding this, I still do not recognise the Queen as being my head of state, and aside from this, I do not believe that a public service should force identification with an undemocratic monarchy upon its workers, especially since it is such an emotive issue for a large setion of the population here given the history of this corner of the island.

Again I reiterate, I have no desire to undermine unionist culture, as you well know. However, the Civil Service is not a facet of unionist culture (well, at least it shouldn't be) and as such, to harbour equality and parity of esteem, I believe it should provide a neutral working environment for its workers.

iluvni said...

Who is claiming the Civil Service is a facet of the Unionist Culture, except you?

NI's cvil service is part and parcel of the UK wide system.
That the crown appears on the uniform is reasonable and not something that should be changed to accommodate inflexible Nationalists whose hearts are steeped in hatred of anything remotely linked to Britishness.

Hanson should have politely told Lewsley to eff off.

(When you starting a crusade on behalf of the Prod teachers who are massively under represented in Roman Catholic schools btw?)

Aileen said...

A Illuvni says its got nothing to do with unionism, its the natural result of accepting that NI is part of the UK.

I go back to saying if I lived in the Republic, I wouldn't expect it to play down its Irishness because I think that the ROI should be back in the Union.

Anonymous said...

It's the same as the police rebranding. In the end common sense will prevail. Government-related agencies have a special part to play in offering a neutral environment to all staff.

Equality legislation should prevent symbols and flags in work places where they simply aren't needed and make people uncomfortable. No one should fear a neutral environment.

The Dubliner said...

"With regards to the national question, my ultimate goal is a united 32-county democratic republic. This must be achieved under the GFA..."- El Matador

Well, if the two unionist posters on this thread are anything to go by, good luck with attaining that objective by means of the GFA. ;)

El Matador said...


There's a significant difference. The RoI is a sovereign state whose legitimacy is not at question (except perhaps by the various hardcore 'republicans').

The legitimacy of NI is very much a bone of contention. It is a false creation of Parliament in 1920.

iluvni- If it is not part of unionist culture, its symbolism shouldn't identify with that culture solely. Again I reiterate ad nauseum, it is not about destroying your culture. It is about creating a neutral working environment. And to suggest that NI is as British and homeogenous in its deference to the Crown as Finchley is frankly ludicrous. Horses for courses i.e. the symbolism must be tailored for the situation in the north.

As regards Catholic schools. Read my last article and you'll probably find that I have no love for Catholic-maintained education.


Indeed. We have come a long way, but there clearly is still a long way to go.

William said...

While I'll openly admit I would prefer to keep the crown on the uniform, as a public service, it should attempt neutrality. Unionists should be willing to make compromises, but I don't think nationalists should have made the mountain out of a molehill in the first place. It's ultimately such a tiny issue that both sides should be wanting to form a consensus around the issue. Of course, that will probably never happen in our wee province.

Anonymous said...

But if you voted for the GFA, you voted for NI to remain in the UK so long as the majority of people there wish it to remain so.

That's democracy.

De facto, you voted for us to retain the British institutions which stem from being in the United Kingdom. If you didn't, there isn't much point in the GFA is there if it doesn't protect the interests of those who believe NI's best place is in a wider United Kingdom.

Unless you're picking bits of the GFA you like which doesn't really get us anywhere.

You're more than entitled to hold your Irish nationalist aspiration. As I'm entitled to point out that in my humble opinion, you're misguided in believing we'd be better off in a 32 county republic. What you, and fellow nationalists are not entitled to do is to push the "equality" argument to mean that anything which bears favour to the UK should be banned. That contrevenes the spirit of GFA with respect to NI's place in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Why stop complaining here. There are many young Catholics from north and south of the border who sign the dotted line and join the Army, Navy and RAF. Why doesnt Mrs Lewsley ask them to stop flying the Union flag from their barracks, stop them having to swear an oath to HM Queen Elizabeth 11, oh and the colours on the target on the side of the Harrier Jump Jet might be offensive.
While were there we should get the royal coat of arms removed from all the courts and the post office insignia has to go.
Some of her blind constituents have no doubt complained about getting their guide dog from a charity that has royal in its name and are probably disgusted at having to feel the queens head every time their hand goes into their pocket to pay for something.
My goodness where should we go when our children are sick. Surely not the ROYAL VICTORIA.
If Irish nationalism eventually gets its way and there is a united Ireland all us law abiding protestants will be able to attack the police without getting arrested, burgle banks without being branded a criminal, fly Union Jacks without getting moaned at and be able to moan about anything written in Gael or anything that has green white and gold on it.

Carnmoney Loyalist.

robert said...

Are the sdlp serious , ??????? Surely not , have they been collectively on drugs ..... ????? Why is this even an issue ....?????