Members of staff from the Protestant community at South West College (SWC) have expressed their “utter dismay” that Chief Executive Michael McAllister attended a recent Sinn Fein Brexit meeting.

In the letter to Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster and the UUP’s Rosemary Barton, a copy of which was also sent to this newspaper, they say that the matter needs to be brought to the Equality Commission.

The letter stated: “The Protestant community at SWC has always felt marginalised mainly due to high numbers of Roman Catholics who hold top and middle management jobs.

“We feel this needs to be highlighted to the Equality Commission.”

The letter asks both politicians to ask question as to why Mr. McAlister attended the event in Enniskillen.

Asked to respond to the letter Mr. McAlister told this newspaper: “I received a request from the local MP to a cross community event in Fermanagh House to outline the impact of Brexit on SWC and services in the South West Region.

“I was assured this was a cross-community event and noted a number of questions from the floor from audience members who identified themselves from both communities. I have no position on the current withdrawal agreement, nor am I entitled to in my role as Chief Executive of South West College.

“At the event I outlined the “potential” areas of interest for SWC which range from student and staff mobilities, EU funded research programmes, cross Border student flows and current mitigations being put in place.”

Mr. McAlister did not respond to the concerns by the Protestant community of feeling “marginalised”.

Responding to the letter, a DUP Spokesperson said: “Arlene Foster is aware of SWC’s speaking role at a local Sinn Fein event. The DUP enjoy a strong relationship with both students and staff of the college. Indeed, college representatives whilst not speaking, have attended our party events in the past.

“However, Brexit is a highly political issue. The college is for the entire community both those who voted leave and remain. Mrs. Foster will speak to senior senior management about ensuring the college is seen to welcome all political opinions. A perception of backing one party position over another would not be good for the College’s standing in the community.”

Meanwhile Rosemary Barton has said she has raised concerns of suggested imbalance in the college workforce.

“I have been informed that in recent months a number of local people of a Protestant faith have grown increasingly disillusioned with perceived religious bias at South West College. In particular, their frustration centres on the lack of protestant appointments to positions of control within the college. Indeed, many of those who approached me to talk about this matter made it clear that there is so little confidence in the process Protestants are no longer applying for senior positions within the college. The situation has now progressed from suggestions of anti-Protestant bias to the revelation that the chief executive took part in an overt political event organised by Sinn Fein about Brexit. On hearing this last week I immediately wrote to Mr. McAllister regarding the matter,” Mrs. Barton said, in a statement to this newspaper.

“I have also submitted a Freedom of Information request to establish the religious balance within the workforce and recent appointments,” she said.