Bible message on NI sea wall does not require ‘equality screening’

A local council in Northern Ireland has dismissed claims by an ‘equality expert’ that repainting Bible texts on a local sea wall may be in breach of its equality scheme.

Following a request to refresh the Bible message painted on a wall in Portstewart, the council was advised that it should launch a public consultation to be compliant with their own equality rules.

A meeting of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council rejected the claim and granted permission for the applicant to proceed.

‘Born again’

The council-owned wall bears the words: “‘The sea is His and He made it’ Psalm 95 v 5”, “Eternity?”, “Jesus said: ‘Ye must be born again’ John c3 v7”, and “‘Christ died for us’ Romans c5 v8”.

The Christian Institute understands that the original texts were painted approximately 50 years ago.

Last repainted in 2018, the latest request led to a diversity consultant claiming that the council may be in breach of the Northern Ireland Office Equality Scheme, as it had not carried out “equality screening” at the time.

The council was also advised to consult the public over “equality and good relations”.

Permission granted

At a meeting last week, a majority of councillors voted to dismiss the equality expert’s recommendations and support an amendment by DUP councillor Alan McClean.

His amendment stated: “Council gives permission for the individual to renew the text as and when required and that the individual write to the council to advise the council that repainting is being completed.”

Minutes from a council sub-committee meeting in May 2021 indicated that the painting had been in position “for a considerable period of time”.