DUP MP Gregory Campbell has written to the Chief Executive of the Housing Executive after a number of statements from NIHE spokespersons during interviews relating to a new mural unveiled last Friday in Londonderry.
Mr. Campbell said “It is outrageous and totally unacceptable that officials of a public body such as the Northern Ireland Housing Executive should be engaged in politically partisan speeches at a mural with specific political references.”
During these interviews a spokesperson said “The Housing Executive was born out of the Civil Rights marches” and that she was standing “side by side” with the community in the Bogside. This was repeated by another spokesperson who then claimed that “fairness and equality is anchored into everything we do”.
Mr Campbell has raised questions over many years in relation to the Housing Executive’s extremely poor record in recruitment from the Protestant community.
The East Londonderry MP said, ‘The Housing Executive has been involved in many projects relating to murals and on occasions political parties, including my own, have supported either the removal or alteration of murals in a range of communities. The questions which have to be addressed by NIHE are not that they were financially supporting a mural celebrating the Civil Rights movement but that their officials became the spokespersons for the event and the particular irony of claims relating to fairness and equality.
NIHE’s own recruitment and employment practices for many years showed that just over one third of those applying for employment within the NIHE were Protestants which is a significant underrepresentation compared to the community at large. Comments about the Executive’s record of equality made at the unveiling of a nationalist mural will simply reinforce the view that the Executive is blind in a corporate sense to failings which have been evident for many years.
It is particularly galling as I have been involved with NIHE in trying to assist in helping get more Protestants recruited into the body. The Chief Executive of NIHE needs to investigate this particularly unfortunate incident and should apologise for this partisan and totally inappropriate behaviour. Action should also be taken to ensure that no such decision is taken again.’