The appointment of the widow of an RUC policeman as the North’s interim victims’ commissioner was discriminatory and was designed to placate Ian Paisley and the DUP, a report has confirmed.
An investigation by Lord Scott for the British Attorney General said the appointment of Bertha McDougall was as a result of pressure from unionist hardliners.
However he cleared the former British Direct Ruler Peter Hain, who made the appointment, and his officials of attempting to mislead the courts about the “selection” process.
The dossier said: “Mrs McDougall had been nominated by the DUP and her appointment was intended to be a confidence building measure towards that party.
“In all the circumstances the appointment was indeed, as Justice Girvan found, politically motivated, though as he noted this in no way reflected on Mrs McDougall’s competence or integrity.”
Sinn Féin Upper Bann Assembly member John O’Dowd said that the report into the appointment of the Victims Commissioner highlighted “serious shortcomings and flaws in the processes” and said that there must be “a new transparency” in all public appointments.
“Sinn Féin believe that all public appointments should be made on merit and that it is a mistake to make partisan appointments that cannot command cross community support,” he said.
“Sinn Féin also believe that we need to tackle the democratic deficit that has accumulated as a result of the culture of quangoism that is so widespread here.”
In related news, new figures have shown that less than nine per cent of prison wardens in the Six Counties are Catholic.
Statistics released by British direct-rule minister Paul Goggins reveal that just over 8% of prison officers are Catholic, although Catholic representation rises to 23% of people employed as support staff.
Historically, Catholics have been under-represented in the Prison Service, partly because some warders engaged with republicans fighting British rule from inside prison.
Twenty-nine warders were killed during the conflict,
Although the numbers of Catholics in the police have slowly risen from 8% of officers in 1999 to around 21% this year due to the introduction of recruitment reforms, the prison service does not use any such recruitment policy.