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Report highlights higher levels of Catholic Inequality

20 June, 2007

Sinn Fein's Equality and Human Rights spokesperson, Foyle MLA Martina Anderson, has described today's Labour Force Survey report that highlights higher levels of inequality among the Catholic community as providing a 'compelling and unanswerable case for the primacy of the equality agenda'.

Ms Anderson was commenting after the launch of the Labour Force Survey Religion Report 2005 by the Office of the First and deputy First Minister. The statistical report, which is conducted annually, measures socio-economic comparative indicators in the six counties.

Ms Anderson said:

"Historical patterns of discrimination and inequality suffered by the Catholic community are still not being effectively addressed - twenty years after the Irish government claimed that the 'nationalist nightmare was over'.

"This report provides detailed evidence of structural inequality across our society. It shows persistently higher levels of inequality in the Catholic community and provides a compelling and unanswerable case for the primacy of the equality agenda.

"For over thirty years, official reports, including this, have repeatedly demonstrated that Catholics remain about 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed. Moreover, the disproportionately higher long-term unemployment rates for Catholics haven't altered in almost fifteen years.

"According to this report, on every socio-economic indicator, Catholics remain proportionately worse off. The position of Catholic females, in particular, is worsening:

  • Catholic females are almost 50% more likely to be economically inactive
  • Catholics are more likely to be economically inactive on grounds of ill-health
  • Catholics are more likely to be renting social housing
  • Catholics are less likely to be economically active
  • Catholics are less likely to own their own homes
  • Catholic females are considerably less likely to be employed than Protestant females

"While official statistics repeatedly demonstrate persistent patterns of socio-economic structural inequality there are powerful influences still maintaining the fiction that everything would be fine if the so-called 'two communities' could just get along a bit more. That is neither credible nor acceptable.

"All of us want and demand a shared future together. But that shared future cannot and will not be achieved unless it is built on the solid foundation of substantive equality across society.

"Overall increased prosperity has clearly not been used to tackle historical patterns of discrimination and inequality. That is no accident.

"That is why we must use the Assembly to shine a torchlight on discriminatory patterns of regional investment, public procurement and strategic economic growth by the public sector. We want to tackle poverty and inequality wherever it exists. This demands strong and effective equality tools.

"We must also use the Assembly to promote affirmative action and substantive equality measures for all sectors of society, in line with best international human rights practice.

"Today's report demonstrates the considerable struggle which still lies ahead to ensure that the equality agenda is placed at the heart of every state structure in the six counties." ENDS

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