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Tribunal hears boss 'joked about size of Catholic families'

A partner at a leading Northern Ireland real estate agency joked about the breeding habits of Catholics and the size of their families, a Fair Employment Tribunal heard yesterday.

Catholic man Jonathan Montague, 28, who is alleging religious discrimination against former employers Templeton Robinson, claimed staff frequently engaged in religious banter in the office.

He said: "There were jokes about the size of Catholic families and the rate at which they bred."

Mr Montague, giving evidence on the second day of a Fair Employment hearing said staff believed him to be a Protestant because he had been a boarder at leading grammar school Methodist College.

"Any banter that contained any religious or political statement wasn't held back so I was under the impression they believed me to be Protestant as well and wouldn't take offence."

He said the comments about the size of Catholic families were made at the company's head office on the Lisburn Road in Belfast by one of the partners, Keith Mitchell, and in the staff room by a sales agent, Patrick Palmer.

Mr Montague was employed as an accounts administrator at the firm in October 2000. He said he was well-treated at first but the atmosphere changed when staff discovered he was a Catholic.

Estate agent 'joked about size of Catholic families' (Irish Times 18/8/04)

Fair Employment Tribunal
Cardinal slams 'new paganism' (The Universe)

19 Aug 2004