A community worker in Derry, Northern Ireland, has won more than £10,000 in damages after it was found that he was not given a job because of his political opinions.

Gary McClean scored the highest out of a group of job applicants, but was denied the job at the Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership because of his political beliefs.

Mr McClean’s views on community services and funding did not chime with those of the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein. He stated that he felt that control of funding community activities should be decided by the communities themselves and not by the government.

‘I hope that by successfully challenging this process, I can shine a light on the need for greater transparency and accountability in appointments within the community sector,’ McClean commented after the case concluded.

Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, commented in the wake of the finding: ‘All appointments, including those in the community sector, must be made without reference to a person’s political opinions, or to any other protected ground.

It is also important that the procedures for such appointments meet basic standards of fairness and transparency and that they are accountable to scrutiny.’

McClean did not re-apply for the post after he was rejected and it was instead awarded to another person.

The tribunal found that, given the nature of the evidence, ‘it seems highly unlikely there can be any innocent explanation of the extraordinary result of this interview process.

In a statement Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership denied that they discriminate on the grounds of political opinion, but are reviewing their recruitment policies accordingly.