A boxer from Belfast has received £8,500 in a settlement after challenging a decision not to select him to compete for Northern Ireland.
Lewis Crocker, 21, took a case against the Ulster Boxing Council (UBC) under fair employment and treatment laws.
Mr Crocker, who is now a professional boxer, said he is believes he was not selected to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in 2015 because of his perceived religious belief/political opinion.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland supported his case, and the UBC settled for £8,500.
He had been fighting with the Holy Trinity Boxing Club in Belfast’s Turf Lodge, a predominantly Catholic area, but his community background, which is Protestant, was well known within the boxing community.
Mr Crocker’s name was put forward by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association’s high performance head coach for Ulster to the UBC as part of the suggested Northern Ireland team for the Commonwealth Youth Games.
However Mr Crocker was not selected. He said he believes all those selected for the team were Catholic.
“It was a real shock when I wasn’t selected for the team, when I knew I had earned a place on it,” Mr Crocker said.
“Everyone else who was recommended by the head coach was selected.
“At the time my non-selection created a huge stir within the boxing community and I was devastated.
“I’m happier now that this has now come to an end. I know that taking the case was the right thing to do and, in fact, I hope it has already made a difference.
“The UBC has said that it has changed its policies. In the settlement they recognise the hurt I suffered when they refused to select me.”
“There certainly should never be any suggestion of a person’s religious or community background being a consideration for team selection,” he said.
“The circumstances of this case left Lewis Crocker convinced that he had been unfairly treated, and that his community background was the reason.
“The Equality Commission assisted Lewis in taking this case under the Fair Employment and Treatment Order, which protects people from discrimination on grounds of religious belief and political opinion.
“The UBC has acknowledged the hurt, distress and upset suffered by Lewis by reason of its refusal to select him as a member of the five-person team to attend the Commonwealth Youth Games 2015 in Samoa.
“It also affirms its commitment to the principles of equality of opportunity and to ensuring that it complies in all respects with its obligations under national and European equality law and has undertaken to ensure that its officers and members are aware of these obligations.
“Since the bringing of these proceedings, it has introduced new policies, practices and procedures to ensure compliance in all respects with its obligations.”