DUPs Alderman John Finlay says that he is ‘shocked’ after learning that compensation was paid by the Northern Ireland Office to a member of staff who was offended at having to walk past a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen.
The compensation paid to the NIO staff member totalled £10.000, with Mr Finlay saying.
“This member of staff would appear to be Mr Lee Hegarty who heads up the Parades Commission, a body which makes decisions on loyal order parades.
“Now we are told that the NIO has banned all portraits of the Queen.
“All this would be laughable if it was not so serious. It is an utter disgrace that a department of state within the United Kingdom should be pandering to nationalist sensitivities in this way.
“The NIO’s negative attitude to British symbols contrasts sharply with its enthusiastic support for the symbols of the LGBT movement. I know that some staff are offended by those displays.
NIO has said it encourages staff to come forward with any concerns or worries they might have. If a member of staff complains about having to walk past an LBGT flag or some other symbol, will NIO respond in the same generous manner as it did to Mr Hegarty? “
HOWEVER Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith, has issued his own statement regarding the stories on pictures displayed in the Northern Ireland Office. Appearing to contradict at least some of this story.
“I was delighted to see a picture of Her Majesty in my office when I arrived at Stormont House for the first time. There are also many pictures and portraits of Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family on public display at Hillsborough Castle.
“The NIO also supports an extensive programme of visits by members of the Royal Family to Northern Ireland, meeting many hundreds of people and a very wide range of groups from across all communities every year. The NIO has delivered 12 such visits in the past twelve months, including the annual Garden Party held this year at Castle Coole.
“I also recognise the importance of the Northern Ireland Office being an open and inclusive place to work, able to attract highly skilled people from across all parts of our community in Northern Ireland. As an employer in Northern Ireland, the NIO takes its obligations under the Northern Ireland Act and Fair Employment legislation seriously.
“I am not going to comment on the specific comments made by Lord Maginnis.”