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Dermot Ahern challenged over action on poverty

16 September, 2005

Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has challenged Irish Foreign Affairs Minster to back up his claim that nationalists have benefited while protestants have suffered as a result of the peace process.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Dermot Ahern's suggestion that social and economic deprivation in the north is more prevalent in loyalist areas than among the nationalist community is untenable. All of the available objective evidence demonstrates clearly that despite a decade of the peace process that nationalists face the greatest threat from poverty and social exclusion. Of the ten most deprived wards 7 are nationalist, 2 are mixed and one is unionist.

"That is not say that poverty does not exists in unionist communities because it does. But it also exists in many many nationalist communities. To suggest that nationalists have benefited while unionists have suffered as a result of the peace process is inaccurate and misleading.

"Sinn Féin will be seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Ahern in order to challenge these comments. He is guilty of accepting unionist attempts to justify the campaign of sectarian violence that has not just gone on in recent days but has seen hundreds of nationalist targeted and attacked all summer long.

"Both the Irish and British governments have failed to prioritise tackling poverty both in the Six Counties and in the 26 counties where the gap between the rich and poor grows every day. Both governments have also failed to make progress on their commitments to the equality agenda." ENDS

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