Ex-prisoners ‘still facing discrimination’ on jobs

Kevin Mulgrew urged the council to become Coiste's partner  for the forthcoming Peace 4 funding round.
Kevin Mulgrew urged the council to become Coiste's partner for the forthcoming Peace 4 funding round.

Ex-prisoners and their families still face discrimination when trying to secure employment or travel abroad, a Council committee has been told.

A presentation was delivered to the Council’s Business & Culture Committee on Tuesday by Coiste na n-Iar Chimi, an umbrella organisation acting on behalf of those who represent thousands of former Republican prisoners and their families.

During the presentation on Tuesday, Kevin Mulgrew, chairperson of Coiste, urged the local council to become its lead partner ahead of a forthcoming European Union Peace 4 Regional Funding application.

Mr Mulgrew said Coiste had employed over 70 staff during Peace III, which finished at the end of March 2015. Since then, he said, many have been working in a voluntary capacity.

“We are intending to replicate the good work we have been doing,” Mr Mulgrew said, adding that this included peace building, conflict resolution and engagement with Loyalist groupings, former British soldiers and former prison staff.

Chair of the Business & Culture Committee Shauna Cusack said she believed the that a lot more information would be needed to go forward on this and suggested it be brought back before the full council, with UUP Councillor Derek Hussey agreeing.

Sinn Fein Councillor Ruari McHugh meanwhile acknowledged on behalf of Sinn Fein the work of Coiste, adding that while the Good Friday Agreement is sometimes held up as a panacea, many ex-prisoners still faced discrimination in terms of employment and travelling abroad.

Mr Mulgrew said that from their perspective the conflict was over, but added that there were even children of ex-Republicans who weren’t even born during the Troubles were facing discrimination.

Colr. Ruari McHugh proposed that the council explore a possible partnership, , after which DUP Councillor David Ramsey proposed that the matter be brought back before the committee instead of full council.