The Equality Authority has been urged to investigate the situation of the Protestant community in the Republic's border counties.

The call has come from the authors of a new report on the impact the border has had on the area.

The report also calls on the authority to ensure that employers cannot discriminate against most people with criminal records.

Entitled 'The Emerald Curtain', the report looks at the way communities in the Republic have been affected by the border.

The report launched this morning says that overall there needs to be rapid progress on cross-border institutions as well as investment in areas such as transport, health, education and social services.

The Protestant community in the area still faces significant problems such as discrimination. The report says the Equality Authority should investigate its situation and make recommendations to reverse it.

It also shows that around 4,000 ex-prisoners and their families, along with 11,000 displaced persons, settled in the border region during the Troubles. Many in both groups say they still feel isolated and discriminated against.

The report also reveals that many women remain in low-paid, insecure jobs.