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Political approach to tackling poverty wrong

3 April, 2006

A senior Sinn Féin delegation has met British direct rule Social Development minister David Hanson today, Monday 3rd April, to discuss the proposed funding for Loyalist areas. Speaking after the meeting Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Poverty, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton said that a politically motivated approach to tackling poverty is wrong.

Ms Stanton said:

"The approach of the British government to the issue of poverty suggested by giving money exclusively to working class loyalist communities is wrong. It will not address the serious issues of poverty, multiple deprivation, unemployment or educational under achievement that affects many sections of our society. All it will do is create division.

"The only way to comprehensively tackle poverty, wherever it exists, is on the basis of objective need, and need alone. Setting aside New TSN policy and equality legislation is wrong and will clearly have serious legal implications.

"While no-one would argue that there are serious levels of poverty in disadvantaged working class loyalist areas and particular problems around educational under achievement, all of the recent objective evidence shows that poverty and disadvantage is more widespread in nationalist areas. Seven of the 10 most deprived areas in the north are in nationalist areas.

"We will not tackle poverty with an ad hoc strategy based on political expediency or by setting aside clear priorities based on targeting social need, equality and fairness. Poverty will only be tackled by understanding its' root causes and through long-term strategies.

"Throwing millions at a small number of loyalist areas is not a solution. The implications for the equality agenda are huge. This approach undermines the legal requirement to act fairly and exposes both the British government and its civil service to the allegation that they are willing to sideline the equality agenda in the name of political expediency." ENDS

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