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DUP need to stop peddling the 'big lie'

20 July, 2005


Sinn Féin General Secretary, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has accused Gregory Campbell of peddling lies about the nature of disadvantage, discrimination and unemployment in the Six Counties.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"The DUP are obsessed with peddling lies and myths about the true nature of disadvantage, discrimination and unemployment in the Six Counties.

"There is no question that many in the protestant community are disadvantaged but the reality is that on every single indicator that Catholics face greater disadvantage.

"The facts speak for themselves. 70% of people living in the 10% most deprived wards, as measured by the Noble Index, are Catholic

"The multiple deprivation statistics published in May this year show that West and North Belfast, Derry City, Craigavon and West of the Bann continue to be the most deprived parts of the Six Counties.

"People from the Catholic community are more likely to be unemployed than Protestants. That is also an indisputable fact. Action is required to tackle the unemployment differential between the two communities not the lies peddled by the DUP.

"If we are going to tackle the social and economic problems created by the patterns of economic activity throughout the Six Counties then we need to be honest about what is happening. Ignoring the true extent of the problem will not help us to put in place the long-term solutions required. Telling lies and propagating myths is part of an attempt to stop resources being targeted on the basis of objective need and objective need alone.

"The attempt to rewrite the history of this state and to misrepresent the current reality both feeds into the siege mentality of unionism and undermines the ability of the equality agenda to affect real change that can and should benefit everyone in our society that lives with disadvantage.

"Historic and current patterns of policy and public expenditure show discrimination against the West of the Bann area, the border region and Catholic rural and urban communities. All objective data on disadvantage, poverty and particularly patterns of unemployment, housing and ill health testifies to this reality." ENDS

Note to Editors

The unemployment rate for Catholic men is 9 per cent compared with 5 per cent for Protestant men. Among women, the unemployment rates are 6 per cent for Catholics and 3 per cent for Protestants. A higher proportion of Catholic than Protestant working age men and women are classified as economically inactive. 24 per cent of Catholic men are economically inactive compared with 18 per cent of Protestant men.

Indicators such as economically inactive rates, the 'official' unemployment figures and also at the levels of long-term unemployment, long-term illness and incapacity, and others such as the Noble index of deprivation and indicators of poverty and ill health all correlate. The statistics show that unemployment, ill health and poverty are a bigger problem for the Catholic community.

The monitoring statistics released by the Equality Commission in December show that the Catholic share of the workforce is still below the Catholic proportion of the economically active population. In the Public sector 55.1% of the overall composition is Protestant and 39.8% Catholic while in the Private sector the protestant share is 55.6% protestant and 39.4% catholic.

The composition of the private sector with 26 plus employees also show a pattern of Catholic under-representation. Harland & Wolff employs 12 Catholics and 235 protestants and Shorts Brothers employs only 14.8% Catholics as against some 85.2% Protestants.

The same pattern of under-representation is replicated among government departments, particularly at senior civil service grades. The 2nd Report of the Justice Oversight Commissioner published June 2004 shows that that less than 1 in 4 senior civil servants is Catholic. Across the NIO as a whole, Catholics make up only 28% of the workforce.

At senior civil service grades (5+ and 6/7) there is systematic under representation with less than 25% of all senior grade civil servants coming from a Catholic background, ranging from 15% in the Employment, Trade and Investment Department, 13% in Regional Development to 33% in Education. Given recruitment trends over the last 30 years it would take until 2057 to achieve fair representation.

The Health Department report on Health Inequalities published in May last year show that people living deprived area are a third more likely to die prematurely; 25% more likely to die as an infant; 15% more likely to get cancer; and 25% more likely to be admitted to hospital.

The Housing Executive figures for 2002-03, show that in Belfast the percentage of Catholics on the Housing Executive waiting list for a house was 44%, yet only 28% of those actually allocated a house were Catholic - an 'under-allocation' of 16%. Protestants represented 43% of those on the waiting list, but 64% of those allocated a house - an 'over-allocation' of 21%.

For the same period (2002-2003) across the north as a whole the percentage of Protestants on the waiting list was 47%, with 54% actually being allocated a house - an over-representation of 7%. For Catholics, the figures were 40% on the waiting list, and 35% actually allocated a house - an under-representation of 5%.

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