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Action required to tackle the unemployment differential

11 October, 2004

Sinn Féin Equality Spokesperson, South Down MLA Catriona Ruane commenting on the updated statistics published by National Statistics Online has said that action is required to tackle the higher levels of unemployment that exist within the Catholic community.

Ms Ruane said:

"People from the Catholic community are more likely to be unemployed than Protestants. That is a simple indisputable fact. Action is required to tackle the unemployment differential between the two communities.

"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. Overall 24 per cent of Catholic men were economically inactive compared with 18 per cent of Protestant men.

"If we look at the number of people who are classified as economically inactive, at the 'official' unemployment figures and also at the levels of long-term unemployment and long-term illness and incapacity the picture is far from rosy. All of these indicators, and others such as the Noble index of deprivation and indicators of poverty and ill health all correlate. The statistics show clearly that unemployment, ill health and poverty are a bigger problem for the Catholic community.

"There is also unemployment within the protestant community but the truth is that there is a structural pattern to the differences in unemployment that stem from structural patterns of discrimination. It is time that unionists acknowledged the reality of this differential and stopped trying to pretend that it doesn't exist.

"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 that many of these long standing problems require.

"There are clear commitments within the Good Friday Agreement to eradicate the differential between the communities but nothing has been done to make any impact. The governments must act, and they must act now." ENDS

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