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Report highlights higher levels of Catholic Inequality

20 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Equality spokesperson, Foyle MLA Martina Anderson, has described today's Labour Force Survey report that highlights higher levels of inequality among the Catholic community as providing a 'compelling and unanswerable case for the primacy of the equality agenda'.

Ms Anderson was commenting after the launch of the Labour Force Survey Religion Report 2006. The statistical report, which is conducted annually, measures socio-economic comparative indicators in the six counties.

Ms Anderson said:

"Historical patterns of discrimination and inequality suffered by the Catholic community are still not being effectively addressed.

"This report provides detailed evidence of structural inequality across our society. It shows persistently higher levels of disadvantage in the Catholic community and provides a compelling and unanswerable case for the primacy of the equality agenda.

"For over thirty years, official reports, including this, have repeatedly demonstrated that Catholics remain more likely to be unemployed. Moreover, disproportionately higher long-term unemployment rates for Catholics haven't changed much in fifteen years.

"According to this report, on every socio-economic indicator, Catholics remain proportionately worse off; for example:

  • Catholic females are more likely to be economically inactive
  • Catholics are more likely to be economically inactive on grounds of ill-health
  • Catholics are more likely to be renting social housing and less likely to own their own homes
  • Catholics are less likely to be economically active
  • Catholic females are considerably less likely to be employed than Protestant females

"While official statistics repeatedly demonstrate persistent patterns of socio-economic inequality there are powerful influences still maintaining the fiction that everything would be fine if the so-called 'two communities' could just get along a bit more. That is neither credible nor acceptable.

"Overall increased prosperity has clearly not been used to tackle historical patterns of discrimination and inequality. That is no accident.

"That is why the Assembly must tackle discriminatory patterns of regional investment, public procurement and strategic economic growth by the public sector. We want to tackle poverty and inequality wherever it exists.

"We must also use the Assembly to promote affirmative action and substantive equality measures for all sectors of society, in line with best international human rights practice.

"Today's report demonstrates the considerable struggle which still lies ahead to ensure that the equality agenda is placed at the heart of every state structure in the six counties." ENDS

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