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‘Cost of Division’ Report rubbished

23 August, 2007

Sinn Féin's Equality and Human Rights spokesperson, Martina Anderson, MLA, has rubbished the so-called 'Cost of the Divide' report compiled by commercial consultants and commissioned by former British Secretary of State, Peter Hain.

Ms Anderson said:

"The report is everything it was expected to be. It was commissioned as part of a calculated campaign to dilute the equality agenda. Those responsible for delivering equality have instead attempted to frustrate, delay and ultimately overturn it. The report was designed to elevate community relations over the primary obligation on government to fulfil its equality duty.

"Its conclusions were expected to validate the NIO's flawed 'A Shared Future' policy and to allow for the framing of future policy on a different basis than that set out in the Good Friday Agreement and enshrined in law.

"In every way the report fails. The report fails to disentangle any cost of 'division' from the cost of the conflict or the cost of partition, discrimination or disadvantage. Claims that division costs us £1 billion or even £1.5 billion just simply do not stand up to scrutiny. Even the authors admit they can't stand over the final figure.

"The political commentary throughout the report is partisan and fails to acknowledge the role of the British State as central protagonists in the conflict. It refuses to acknowledge that, for generations, structural discrimination and inequality were the benchmarks against which government policy was framed and administered by British direct rule and Unionist elites.

"The peace process has transformed the situation. It has brought our society away from conflict. It must now deliver on the equality and human rights agenda.

"This must be the benchmark which governs the development and application of future government policy. This report must not distract from that fundamental objective. Sinn Féin will challenge all attempts to undermine the equality agenda.

"The core principles of promoting equality and targeting objective need must be upheld.

"The delivery of equality is the job of the Assembly and the Executive.

"This report should not form the basis of any policy-making within the current Executive.

"What we need to see, and see soon, is evidence that the Executive is up for the job required of it. Sinn Féin is up for equality. Is the rest of the administration up for it?

"We need to see a comprehensive programme of timetabled action to tackle poverty and promote equality on the basis of objective need. We need to transform the lives of those in need. And we need to do it quickly." ENDS

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