Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Equality can deliver for everyone

4 October, 2005


Sinn Féin's Equality & Human Rights spokesperson, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane has said the full implementation of the Equality Agenda can make a difference on the ground for everyone regardless of background, race or any of the other section 75 groups but warned that the undermining of the Equality agenda by the British government and civil service needed to be addressed otherwise society will be blighted by deepening inequalities, sectarianism, racism and other forms of discrimination.

Speaking at the launch of the party's newly published Equality document Ms Ruane said:

"The reality is that inequality is still with us. Yet the full implementation of the Equality Agenda can and should make a difference for the most marginalised in our society. Equality can deliver for everyone.

"The undermining of the Equality agenda by the British government and civil service needed to be honestly addressed otherwise society will be blighted by deepening inequalities, sectarianism, racism and other forms of discrimination.

"Nationalists are under-represented in the workforce, particularly in the senior civil service, Catholics are twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants and in areas such as education, health, housing and investment, nationalists are clearly facing an uphill battle to secure equality of opportunity and fair treatment.

The key statistics show that the:

· Proportion of working age people who are unemployed - 5.6 Catholic and 3.3 Protestant

· Proportion of working age economically active people who are long term unemployed -3.4 Catholic and 1.7 Protestant

· Proportion of working age people who are employed - 61.2 Catholic and 71.2 Protestant

· Proportion of working age persons in workless households - 15.7 Catholic and 10.5 Protestant

· Unemployment differential between Catholic and Protestant (male) (1992: 2.4) 2004: 2.0

· Proportion of children 0-15 in workless households - 21.5 Catholic and 11.8 Protestant

"At senior civil service Grade 5 and above the proportion of Catholics is 24.8% compared to 66% for Protestants.

"It is also true that 50% of household with a disabled member face poverty.

"The equality agenda is about ensuring that people in our society who suffer from inequality, social exclusion and discrimination are protected and that full equality of treatment is achieved. Equality in all its aspects applies to anyone facing inequality, regardless of their community background or social condition.

"Equality legislation alone will not succeed in tackling the deep-rooted inequalities that exist without the political will of politicians, policy-makers and others to grasp the nettle and comprehensively tackle the realities, not the perceptions, about discrimination.

Sinn Fein believe that we need action now to address the problem, including:

  • Affirmative action
  • Full Implementation of New Targeting Social Need
  • Policy commitment to eradicate disparity and inequality within a 10 year timeframe
  • Resources
  • Monitoring
  • Political will

Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin added:

"Legislative measures are only as effective as the difference they make in securing change and in making a difference on the ground.

"Policy makers ignore the equality agenda by not tackling poverty and disadvantage that exist in nationalist and in some unionist areas on the strict basis of objective need. Any divergence from approaching these issues on the basis of objective need is a recipe for furthering inequality and division.

"It is Sinn Fein's belief that those groups and communities who are experiencing inequality, discrimination and disadvantage are looking for strong leadership to counter the range of decisions that are reinforcing inequality in our society." ENDS

Note to Editors

INDICATOR CATHOLIC % PROTESTANT %

Proportion of children 0-15 in workless households 21.5 11.8

Proportion of pupils achieving no qualifications 5.9 4.7

Proportion of pupils achieving no GCSE's 6.6 5.1

Proportion of working age people who are employed 61.2 71.2

Proportion of working age people who are unemployed 5.6 3.3

Proportion of working age economically active people who are long term unemployed 3.4 1.7

Proportion of lone parents of working age who are in employment 45.3 52.9

Proportion of persons of working age not in employment who would like a job 13.0 7.8

Working age economic inactivity rates 33.2 25.5

Proportion of working age persons in workless households 15.7 10.5

Proportion of working age adults living in work rich households 37.9 53.3

Proportion of persons of working age without a qualification 27.8 24.2

Unemployment differential between Catholics and Protestant (male and female) (1992: 2.0)2002:1.9

Unemployment differential between catholic and Protestant (male) (1992: 2.4)2002: 2.1

Unemployment differential between catholic and Protestant (female) (1992: 1.4)2002: 1.6

Source: 'Indicators of Social Need for NI', OFMDFM, September 2004

The Department of Health report into inequalities of health (Dec 2004) show that:

· Those areas with the worst access to health and social care facilitates have a higher proportion of Catholics

· A person living in a deprived area (the majority of which are catholic) is 34% more likely to die early than a similar person living in a non-deprived area of the North.

· Lung cancer rates for all persons are 57% higher in deprived areas than elsewhere in the North

· In areas with the worst health outcomes, there are higher proportions of Catholics, nationalists and single people.

The 2002-03 Housing Executive figures show:

· In Belfast show that 44% of people on the waiting lists were Catholic yet only 28% of those allocated a house were Catholic - an 'under-allocation' gap of 16% in relation to allocations.

· In comparison Protestants represented 43% of those on the waiting list but 64% of those actually allocated a house - an 'over-allocation' gap of 21%.

· Across the north as a whole this differential of Catholic under representation in housing allocation is repeated. 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%.

Sinn Féin key priorities for action on the Equality Agenda include:

  • Affirmative action.
  • Contact compliance
  • Full implementation of New TSN
  • Political Will
  • Identification of disadvantage
  • Policy commitment to eradicate disparity and inequality within a 10 year timeframe
  • A recognition that structural and endemic inequality and disadvantage occurs against particular groups in society because of the nature of that society
  • Resources must then be directed to those most in need in order to redress that disadvantage and inequality

Connect with Sinn Féin