Sinn Féin - On Your Side

DUP opposition to Equality Commission driven by sectarianism

25 July, 2005

Responding to the news that the DUP MP Gregory Campbell is to raise concerns about the make up of the Equality Commission in the British House of Commons, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane accused the DUP of peddling myths about the nature of inequality here and said that their opposition to recent appointments to the Equality Commission are driven by sectarianism.

Ms Ruane said:

"The opposition of the DUP to the Equality agenda is driven by sectarianism and their comments about recent appointments to the Equality Commission are bordering on the racist.

"The opposition to the equality agenda is built upon myths, lies and half truths.

"The facts speak for themselves. 70% of people living in the 10% most deprived wards, as measured by the Noble Index, are Catholic. Catholics are more likely to be unemployed, are less likely to be in senior civil service grades, are more likely to be on Housing Executive waiting list, and have a poorer health profile.

"The DUP don't want to accept this because it would mean that they would have to acknowledge the role of unionism in the systematic discrimination of the state against nationalists. It would also mean that they would have to accept that resources allocated on the basis of need and need alone would skew resources towards the most disadvantaged in our society, who even in the 21st century more likely to be Catholic.

"The DUP need to stop telling lies to their own community because it does no-one any good. If anything Gregory Campbell taking the issue of Equality to the British House of Commons will expose their lies and expose their sectarian driven agenda to ridicule.

"The DUP are obsessed with peddling 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 real test for the Equality Commission is whether it can deliver on the task of tackling discrimination and inequality. In part that means taking on the policy makers and those in key decision making positions." 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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