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1925 to 1965Under successive Unionist Prime Ministers from Sir James Craig (later Lord Craigavon) onwards, the unionist establishment practised what is generally considered a policy of discrimination against the nationalist/Catholic minority.This pattern was firmly established in the case of local government, where gerrymandered ward boundaries rigged local government elections to ensure unionist control of some local councils with nationalist majorities. In a number of cases, most prominently those of the Corporation of Londonderry, Omagh Urban District, and Fermanagh County Council, ward boundaries were drawn to place as many Catholics as possible into wards with overwhelming nationalist majorities while other wards were created where unionists had small but secure majorities, maximising unionist representation.Voting arrangements which gave commercial companies multiple votes according to size, and which restricted the personal franchise to property owners, primary tenants and their spouses (which were ended in England in the 1940s) continued in Northern Ireland until 1969, became increasingly resented. Disputes over local government gerrymandering were at the heart of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.In addition, there was widespread discrimination in employment, particularly at senior levels of the public sector and in certain sectors of the economy, such as shipbuilding and heavy engineering. Emigration to seek employment was significantly more prevalent among the Catholic population. As a result, Northern Ireland's demography shifted further in favour of Protestants leaving their ascendancy seemingly impregnable by the late 1950s.
Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) OrderThe Fair Employment and Treatment ( Northern Ireland ) Order 1998 (FETO) (a) makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the ground of religious belief or political opinion. This includes a person's supposed religious belief or political opinion and the absence of any, or any particular, religious belief or political opinion.The Order defines three types of unlawful discrimination: * Direct discrimination is where a person on grounds of religious belief or political opinion is treated less favourably than others are, or would be, treated in the same or similar circumstances. * Indirect discrimination may occur where a provision, criterion or practice, although applied equally to all, would put persons of a particular religion or belief at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim. * Victimisation means treating someone less favourably than others because they have, for example, complained of alleged discrimination or have assisted someone else to do so. The Fair Employment and Treatment ( Northern Ireland ) Order 1998 (a) was amended by the Fair Employment and Treatment Order (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland ) 2003 which came into operation on 10 December 2003. The regulations implement the requirements of the EU Employment Framework Directive 2000/78/EC which requires Member States to introduce laws to prohibit discrimination on several grounds including religion or belief.
72. This is true above all for the European countries, in which these divisions first appeared, and for North America. In this regard, without wishing to minimize the other visits, I would especially mention those within Europe which took me twice to Germany, in November 1980 and in April-May 1987; to the United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales) in May-June 1982; to Switzerland in June 1984; and to the Scandinavian and Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) in June 1989. In an atmosphere of joy, mutual respect, Christian solidarity and prayer I met so very many brothers and sisters, all making a committed effort to be faithful to the Gospel. Seeing all this has been for me a great source of encouragement. We experienced the Lord's presence among us.In this respect I would like to mention one demonstration dictated by fraternal charity and marked by deep clarity of faith which made a profound impression on me. I am speaking of the Eucharistic celebrations at which I presided in Finland and Sweden during my journey to the Scandinavian and Nordic countries. At Communion time, the Lutheran Bishops approached the celebrant. They wished, by means of an agreed gesture, to demonstrate their desire for that time when we, Catholics and Lutherans, will be able to share the same Eucharist, and they wished to receive the celebrant's blessing. With love I blessed them. The same gesture, so rich in meaning, was repeated in Rome at the Mass at which I presided in Piazza Farnese, on the sixth centenary of the canonization of Saint Birgitta of Sweden, on 6 October 1991.I have encountered similar sentiments on the other side of the ocean also: in Canada, in September 1984; and particularly in September 1987 in the United States, where one notices a great ecumenical openness. This was the case, to give one example, of the ecumenical meeting held at Columbia, South Carolina on 11 September 1987. The very fact that such meetings regularly take place between the Pope and these brothers and sisters whose Churches and Ecclesial Communities originate in the Reformation is important in itself. I am deeply grateful for the warm reception which I have received both from the leaders of the various Communities and from the Communities as a whole. From this standpoint, I consider significant the ecumenical celebration of the Word held in Columbia on the theme of the family.