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Poverty will not be tackled as a sop to unionism

31 March, 2006

Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has voiced concern at the reported 30 million pound fund for loyalist areas to tackle disadvantage and said that poverty will not be tackled by political expediency or as a sop to unionism and that this approach will have serious implications for the equality agenda

Mr Kelly said:

"All of the recent objective evidence shows that poverty and disadvantage is more widespread in nationalist areas. No one would argue that there is not serious poverty in disadvantaged working class loyalist areas. But by the same measure it must also be accepted that there are more serious levels of poverty, deprivation and unemployment in working class nationalist areas.

"I think that it is totally wrong to go about the job of tackling poverty wherever it exists on anything other than the basis of objective need, and need alone.

"We will not tackle poverty or build community capacity through political expediency or as a sop to unionism.

"We will only tackle poverty if we properly understand its' root causes and what forces created and maintain poverty and put in place long-term strategies to tackle and eradicate poverty.

"The idea that throwing 20 or 30 million pounds at a small number of loyalist areas is a solution is insane. The implications for the equality agenda are huge. Such an approach makes a total nonsense of the legal requirement to act fairly and exposes both government and civil service to the charge that they are willing to bend or break the rules to suit their own agenda.

"Setting aside New TSN policy and equality legislation is wrong and will clearly have legal implications." ENDS

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