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Dermott Nesbitt challenged over sectarian defence of unemployment differential

16 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has accused the UUP's Dermott Nesbitt of using nakedly sectarian arguments in the defence of the unemployment differential that means that Catholics are still more likely to be unemployed than Protestants.

Dermott Nesbitt's comments came during the Preparation for Government Committee meeting on Friday August 11th.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"I think that most people will be totally disgusted that in the 21st century that Dermott Nesbitt is still trying to put forward sectarian arguments to justify the fact that Catholics are still more likely than Protestants to be unemployed.

"Unionists of all shades have repeatedly tried to explain away the unemployment differential between Catholics and Protestants as a result of differential demography, especially different birth rates. But these arguments cannot hide the reality of the situation.

"It is totally frustrating that unionists fail to acknowledge the core problem of political and religious discrimination and inequality or support effective policy solutions to tackle the problem. It is impossible to analyse the situation without looking at the highly interrelated set of factors - social, economic, cultural, geographic and, most important, political and historic.

"There are specific commitments to tackle and eliminate the unemployment differential in the Good Friday Agreement that are being ignored. Indeed across a range of recent policy developments there is evidence of a return to the type of decision making the created and compounded the situation in the first place." ENDS

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