Prison Service staff still mostly Protestant

The overwhelming majority of Northern Ireland Prison Service staff are Protestant, according to new figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Of its 1,230 staff, 957 (77 per cent) identified themselves as Protestants and just 166 (13 per cent) identified themselves as Catholics. Nearly 9 per cent did not declare their background.

Ivor Dunne, chair of the Northern Ireland Prison Officers’ Association, told the Belfast Telegraph: “There are three religions in Northern Ireland: Catholic, Protestant and security forces, and the other two can turn on the last one at the drop of a hat.

“I have been in the Prison Service for 30 years and I have never once encountered religious bias. I wouldn’t stand for it. I would encourage anyone from any religion to join the Prison Service.”

A spokesperson for the Prison Service said it “is committed to ensure that as an organisation it reflects the community it serves”.

The spokesperson added: “In any of its recruitment campaigns the Prison Service seek to encourage applications from all sections of the community. Ultimately appointments to the NIPS are made on merit.”