FORMER regional development minister Conor Murphy appointed the chairman of Northern Ireland Water because he was not a Protestant and because he knew him, a tribunal has ruled.
The department has lost a religious discrimination case at an industrial tribunal brought by a rejected candidate.
The tribunal found evidence from Sinn Fein’s Mr Murphy to be “implausible and lacking credibility”.
The case was brought by Alan Lennon, a Protestant who failed in his bid for the high-profile post.
In March last year Mr Murphy appointed a Catholic, Sean Hogan, ahead of four Protestants.
The tribunal said Mr Hogan was selected because “he was not from a Protestant background and because he was known to the minister and his ministerial colleagues”.
Mr Murphy’s party colleagues Michelle Gildernew and Caitriona Ruane were consulted about the appointment.
Dr Lennon said: “I brought this case to shine a light on what I feel is a selection system that is not fit for purpose.
“I am very pleased that it appears that this case will put in train changes and improvements to the processes around public appointments.
“I’m very grateful to the Equality Commission for their support both to me personally and to those who are now tasked with making those changes happen.”