Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Peace Monitoring Report: Should there be a strategy to tackle long-term catholic unemployment and deprivation?

Mon 5 March 2012, 11:10pm

One of the inconvenient truths of the peace and political processes to date has been the fact that all available statistical evidence continues to confirm that catholics remain considerably more disadvantaged in socio-economic terms than their protestant neighbours in the north of Ireland.

The Community Relations Council’s Peace Monitoring Report reaffirms this fact, highlighting that the proportion of people living in low-income households is considerably greater amongst catholics (26%) than protestants (16%.) The report also confirms that “on every indicator the proportion of catholics affected is higher than the proportion of Protestants.”

Yet, as Alan correctly noted in his earlier blog addressing this publication, little is often made of this fact, something the eagle-eyed Jude Collins noted in a blog in recent weeks:

“Labour Force Survey Religion Report 2010” from the OFMDFM  says that 61% of long-term unemployed people are Catholic;  the 2008 Annual Average of Long-Term Unemployed, from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, showed that 29 of  the 38 electoral wards most affected by unemployment across Northern Ireland  have at least 85% Catholic population.”

But what is more remarkable is that this fact continues to be overlooked and often simply ignored so that an alternative narrative can be spun.

Take last Wednesday’s Belfast Telegraph. Without reference to the glaring differences with regard to the levels of deprivation facing both communities, the Leader column in that day’s edition boldly declared on the back of this report that:

 “Of course we have known for a long time that Protestant working-class males are particularly disadvantaged…..While the gains of one community or class should not be interpreted as being at the expense of their sectarian opposites, it is evident that the peace dividend has not been evenly spread.”

It has similarly- and incorrectly- been argued elsewhere for long that protestant working-class males are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to education in spite of the fact that the evidence clearly indicates that catholic males continue to make up a greater proportion of those failing to obtain the basic educational qualifications- something once again reaffirmed in the CRC document.

That is not to say there is not a problem facing a worryingly high number of working class protestant communities. Rather, it is to state that this problem is one shared by many working class catholic communities.

Yet as Jude Collins noted in his blog, the draft regeneration plan for Derry City includes a strategy to target protestant male underachievement in education, but no similar strategy appears to be in place for tackling long-term unemployment amongst catholics.

Which raises the question: should there be a specific strategy aimed at tackling long-term unemployment and deprivation in catholic communities?

And, if not, then why not? After all, if a regeneration plan in an overwhelmingly catholic city consisting of multiple wards with chronic levels of socio-economic deprivation have in place a strategy to target exclusively protestant male underachievement in education, then why shouldn’t we expect a credible strategy to be put in place to address long term catholic unemployment and deprivation?

Alan has noted how Sinn Fein and the SDLP have consistently failed to devise and implement strategies to specifically tackle these issues, whilst the issue of the over-representation of catholics amongst the most impoverished within our society is not something which has ever particularly vexed unionist politicians of any hue.

Thus it would appear to be the case that the matter has fallen between the twin stools of nationalist incompetence and unionist disinterest.

Indeed, the evidence from the last DUP Assembly election manifesto is that they prefer to ignore these facts and instead concentrate on focused improvement strategies which have the PUL community as its exclusive target.

Not surprising, I hear you say.

However, if political parties are ever to move beyond the symbolic outreach phase of attending each other’s sporting fixtures (an albeit positive development in its own right-revisited again this evening), then support for such initiatives is perhaps the best measure of a willingness to move out of a comfort zone.

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Comments (48)

  1. FuturePhysicist (profile) says:

    If you want to lay any responsibility on anyone’s feet it lies squarely at the feet on the Sinn Féin ministers in the executive. But I will say they have addressed the problem of NETs in their own manifesto…

    “Ensure that social employment and training clauses for the long-term unemployed and apprentices are built into all regeneration contracts”

    So much so it’s written twice in the same document.

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  2. @Broc_Boyd (profile) says:

    This all comes down to attitude and the view of unemployment. Young Catholics are victim of their older generation being satisfied to be unemployed and viewing it as acceptable to live off the state.

    They do not have to deal with the same social problems associated with unemployment as Protestants where the social impact is much higher. Protestants take being unemployed as a sense of embarrassment and as such may explain why the unemployment figures are so misleading with many Protestants being unwilling to sign on when their Catholic counterparts are signing on at the first available opportunity.

    In the current climate it would completely unfair to try and implement any strategy which specifically targeted Catholic unemployment and deprivation. Such a manoeuvre would ostracise the Protestant working population especially of the younger generation where they would have to witness in some cases their less qualified Catholic neighbours being gifted jobs the did not deserve.

    Any strategy for tackling unemployment should be one for Northern Ireland as a whole and not one which spoon feeds the Catholic population!

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  3. pauluk (profile) says:

    A couple of thoughts come to mind:

    - There is a pretty level playing field in employment practices in NI, so I’m wondering, is Chris suggesting some kind of ‘affirmative action’ for Catholics? You know, lowering the bar so that they can, …whatever? (somehow I think most Catholics would find that insulting – the ones I know, anyway)

    - Does the recent influx of folks from Portugal, Lithuania and Poland affect the numbers? They are, after all, from predominantly Catholic countries looking for a better way of life in NI, and they, for the most part, currently have jobs on the lower end of the scale.

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  4. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    It is of course a thinly veiled argument for a return to an even more discriminating, and widespread, policy than the so-called ’50:50′ process for the PSNI (the outworking of which has shown more of the ‘suitable’ Roman Catholics police officers leaving the police with less than five years service than their Protestant co-recruits – I await the explanation from the usual suspects that this is not as a result of them being ill-suited to a police career but rather as a result of ‘institutional sectarianism’ [TM]).

    However I say bring it on! This sort of stuff is informative, especially for those who are sometimes tempted by Irish Republicans’ often soft sell of a ‘New Ireland’: an ‘Ireland of Equals’ where some will be more equal than others.

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  5. dwatch (profile) says:

    “on every indicator the proportion of catholics affected is higher than the proportion of Protestants.”

    In relation to West Belfast, their former MP Gerry Adams does not seem to care about employment for his Catholic supporters as he has jumped ship, and left them to go to the ROI all in their hour of need.

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  6. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    To be fair to Chris PaulUK, I don’t think he’s being that prescriptive.. Do we have any data on what’s causing the difference in outcomes?

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  7. Old Mortality (profile) says:

    ‘Does the recent influx of folks from Portugal, Lithuania and Poland affect the numbers?’

    Of course it does. Why do we need to import labour when so many of the indigenous population are officially inactive? The answer almost certainly lies within the social security system. Going back 10 or 20 years, it’s a reasonable hypothesis that many Catholics were effectively pricing themselves out of formal employment because of their family size. That is almost certainly less of a factor nowadays.
    Two alternative explanations are (1) that Catholics tend to live in areas of weak economic activity and (2) they have a stronger tendency to be informally employed or, to put it bluntly, on the fiddle because detection and enforcement has traditionally been more difficult in Catholic areas and neighbours less inclined to inform.

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  8. PaulT (profile) says:

    “Catholics were effectively pricing themselves out of formal employment because of their family size. That is almost certainly less of a factor nowadays.”

    In which case this problem would be replicated across unemployment in any country or region and would therefore be recognised and dealt with by now, has it?

    “they have a stronger tendency to be informally employed or, to put it bluntly, on the fiddle because detection and enforcement has traditionally been more difficult in Catholic areas and neighbours less inclined to inform.”

    Yet reading the papers you’d be inclined to believe this was more a protestant culture, in recent years the current and previous leaders of the DUP and their family members have had questionable business dealings exposed, and yet it hasn’t cost the party any support, therefore I presume their voters aren’t all that bothered.

    I’d add that that most catholic of parties SF have a very public policy of not employing family members, which seems to play well with voters.

    ‘long term unemployed’ is a very broad church, and obviously covers the ‘workshy’ and ‘backhanders’ however, however I believe there is still an element of a hangover from the ‘troubles’ which would give several reasons for catholics being more affected.

    The reality of the situation is that many of these people are unemployable or the work available unenjoyable and poorly paid.

    Possibly a line needs to be drawn and a certain group just left alone, the group in the middle given training and special attention, and the most capable group at the top a kick in the backside.

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  9. tacapall (profile) says:

    Some fascinating insights from the Unionist brethren on the reasons for Catholic unemployment I laugh when I think of all those Catholic Rab C Nesbitt’s with 16 kids living the high life off the State jobseekers allowance and not wanting to work because (1) They’re not educated enough and unqualified (2) well that’s what Catholics do because they’re born like that its traditional handed down from generation to generation. (3) They all claim the dole and are working on all them imaginary building sites and invisible factories in areas like West Belfast and Ardoyne and its all kept hush hush from the authorities because once again that’s what Catholics do.

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  10. cynic2 (profile) says:

    I suspect this is all very complex. For example, the population in NI is geographically segregated with a higher Catholic proportioner in the rural west where unemployment is higher.

    The ideal way to address all of this would be for our Government to set up a cross Departmental task force to determine the overall position in micro economic terms and develop a strategy to address it, integrated into our wider development plans.

    Sadly, neither they nor the civil service seem to have the political will or intellectual capital to manage that

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  11. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “social employment and training clauses”

    You can see that they have all already been on the bureaucracy 1.1 course at Queens. Boys a dear those Shinners sure know how to address economic disadvantage

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  12. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    This might be of interest, in particular to Pauluk regarding his point on foreign nationals, hailing from traditionally ‘catholic’ countries (Portuguese nationals tending to hail from Brazil rather than Europe)
    http://www.equalityni.org/archive/pdf/MonitoringReport%202010.pdf
    My point being, the greatest increase in catholic employment has corresponded to the phenomenal growth in immigrants from countries like Poland and Lithuania and southern Latvia, the EC report fails to examine ethnic origin when questioning religious affiliation, therefore, thanks to Chris for raising this, we might need to add such background checks to ensure the old problem of catholic/nationalist segregation and discrimination is avoided.
    Frankly, in 2012, the persistence in this tradition is appalling and, if traditionally unionist employers are favoring non-indigenous applicants before potentially Irish employees this needs investigation and yet further legislation, not by way of Order in Council, to deal with it, even if it means limiting ‘equality’ to favor locally bred catholics, and protestants where necessary.
    Not a racist point, which would be uncommon from me, simply economic and practical.

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  13. madraj55 (profile) says:

    Chris. There’s no point expecting a non sectarian view from the BT editor. The paper was only handed to southern pwnwerrship on the understanding it would favour a unionist viewpoint regardless of the demographic changes. Unionists have lost Belfast and still no change of attitude from BT.

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  14. Dec (profile) says:

    Let’s see what we can deduce from the range of unionist expertise on this thread (and special mention to Sonofstrongbow who was online at 7:19am sharing his expertise and demonstrating his grasp of the topic in hand):

    Essentially (and to echo Tacapall’s findings), Catholics are unemployed due to a genetic predisposition for laziness and aversion to physical activity; a Catholic in employment is the direct product of a Protestant having been discriminated against somewhere down the line; immigrants from Europe are always Catholic. Oh, and unemployed. Catholics aren’t embarassed by unemployment, rather it is a badge of honour, passed down from one generation to the next.
    And yes, Tacapall is the one with the yellow card.

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  15. Old Mortality (profile) says:

    I fully expected the suggestion that family size could affect the relative attraction to attract righteous indignation rather than considered comment from Tacapall et al.

    I don’t have the time to dig out the statistics but I know that in the 1970s the North West had the highest birth rate in Europe and may well still have, albeit at a lower level.

    Is it too much to ask for serious consideration of the proposition that an unskilled man with six dependent children of school age (a purely theoretical case, of course!) would find suitable employment financially less attractive than a single man with no dependents.

    Is it entirely implausible to suggest that social security investigators may have been hesitant about pursuing inquiries in West Belfast or the Bogside during the troubles?

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  16. PaulT (profile) says:

    ‘cuse me Dec but I also have a yellow card, you seem to be bucking to make it a hat-trick for Mick.

    Anyway as I apparently have a large family to look after and a little ‘nixer’ to take off I’d better crack on,

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  17. Dec (profile) says:

    Paul

    Apologies for missing that. My eyesights not what it used to be before I fathered those 20 kids.

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  18. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    Dec,

    Apologies. My being online at 7.19am seems to have riled you. You’ll perhaps forgive me but its tough to subdue the Protestant Work Ethic.

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  19. tacapall (profile) says:

    Strongbow. I’ve watched many times on the news those young protestant entrepreneurs from various areas of Belfast leaving the Magistrates court in their torquise shell suits with the gold jewellery dripping off them and the kruggerrand rings saving their knuckles from scrapping the ground. Just what type of enterprise are these church going law abiding young citizens with the good protestant work ethic involved in ?

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  20. Barnshee (profile) says:

    NI has the most stringent anti discrimination legislation –(probably) in the the world-it has been in force for decades

    If groups feel disadvantaged a short period of searching for beams in their own eyes might be appropriate before the motes elsewhere are sought.

    It might also be possible to investigate if family size has an effect on family poverty without

    1 Using such as a stick to beat a particular grouping

    2 Regarding such investigation as picking on a particular group

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  21. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    Damn it tacapall you’ve managed to sum up Protestantism in such a withering and insightful manner. I consider myself well chastised.

    Since you’ve opened the door to mutual self-improvement advice may I suggest you reflect on what may be regarded by some as an unhealthy interest in a certain class of gent’s sartorial style?

    The exploitation of what may be described as a disadvantaged underclass for ones own personal gratification can be frowned upon by others.

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  22. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    Barnshee ‘ the most stringent anti discrimination legislation –(probably) in the the world’ took no fewer than four attempts, three of which were primary legislation in Parliament to get this part of the world to a point where, three years ago an indigenous catholic was still more than twice as likely to be unemployed as a protestant.
    Discrimination seems to be as healthy now as in Brook’s day.

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  23. Dec (profile) says:

    ‘. You’ll perhaps forgive me but its tough to subdue the Protestant Work Ethic.’

    Posting bollocks on the internet is ‘work’ now?

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  24. ranger1640 (profile) says:

    Below is an article that appeared in the Andersonstown news in 08.However it was immediately removed and an apology made. The article was luckily put up here before it was removed from the Andersonstown news.

    It details the failings of the Sinn Fein president and long term MP for west Belfast one Mr Gerry Adams. It is as relevant today as the time it was published, the only differenced is we have a diffident Sinn Fein MP.

    Can’t argue with Squinter, he hits the nail on the head. Republicans/nationalists used as Sinn Fein electoral fodder and what do they have to show for it. Middle class republicans/nationalists joining the PSNI for less than 5 years. No major inward investment in west Belfast, even though Gerry Adams is often in the US putting the Sinn Fein collection plate around. He would have been better off bring jobs to west Belfast, and dollars to west Belfast in the way of wages. Than selfishly going to the US to fill Sinn Fein coffers, and the same goes for the rest of Sinn Fein’s MP’s. But as the good people of west Belfast are finding out. You get what elect. The Sinn Fein project is focused on Sinn Fein not their electorate, that is until they are needing elected. All Sinn Fein voters need to ask themselves, what have Sinn Fein done for me. I think you will find the answer in the Squinter article,

    “A former aide of Tony Blair has been making frankly embarrassing revelations in a new book about how close Adams and Blair were. Adams was the Oprah Winfrey of Irish-America. And what did we get? InBev gone and Visteon going. A huge investment conference that holds its nose as it swishes past West Belfast ferrying ministers and Invest NI suits to Hillsborough and Cultra. Adams might have got away with pointing to the lack of investment in his constituency in 1983 and saying: “Nothing to do with me, mate.” 20 years on and you’d buy a house in Ross Street quicker than you’d buy that”.

    “20 years. Two decades. Four parliamentary terms. Four US Presidents. Two Popes. 11 Secretaries of State. Five UN Secretary-Generals. Five Taoisigh. Five Prime Ministers. In Ross Street the wind of change blows in empty Budweiser boxes and despair; it blows out good people and hope.”

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2008/03/20/gerry-must-go/

    Still not convinced??? http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0516/election.html#video

    Watch the second video in this section of three. Listen to Adams spue out cliche after cliche about the peace and Uncle Tom Cobley. The Sinn Fein project is excellent on doctrinal rhetoric, but when it comes to delivering jobs for their electorate they are was useful as Adams memory when it comes to Monty Python songs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoaktW-Lu38&feature=fvst

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  25. ranger1640 (profile) says:

    Who need jobs in west Belfast when, we’re all right Jack.
    Industrial wage my ar*e.

    “For example, what have the late former heavyweight champion of the world Joe Frazier, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a former senior executive at Lehman Brothers got in common?

    The thread that ties this eclectic group of individual celebrities, powerful blue collar unions and Wall Street is support for Sinn Fein fundraising efforts in North America, either by attending a $500-a-plate fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan or other US Sinn Fein events, or by direct donation via the party’s US fundraising arm, Friends of Sinn Fein.

    Sinn Fein makes full use of its “dual residency” both sides of the border. It means that although for the most part (thanks to the US Department of Justice) we know where the US money is coming from, what is less clear is where it is going to. The party makes use of a UK law which only allows political parties in Northern Ireland to raise funds from foreign countries”.

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/jerome-reilly-sinn-fein-war-chest-swells-as-global-ties-pay-big-dividends-3038814.html

    With all those contacts above an no inward investment, go figure.

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  26. Reader (profile) says:

    PaulT: Yet reading the papers you’d be inclined to believe this was more a protestant culture, in recent years the current and previous leaders of the DUP and their family members have had questionable business dealings exposed, and yet it hasn’t cost the party any support, therefore I presume their voters aren’t all that bothered.
    Who is the MP for East Belfast? And who *was* the MP for East Belfast for the previous 30 years?
    The bad news is that the DUP will survive scandals so long as their electorate perceives that they continue to deliver. After all – FF survived Charlie and Bertie until the economy went off the rails.

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  27. Reader (profile) says:

    tacapall: I’ve watched many times on the news those young protestant entrepreneurs from various areas of Belfast leaving the Magistrates court in their torquise shell suits with the gold jewellery dripping off them and the kruggerrand rings saving their knuckles from scrapping the ground. Just what type of enterprise are these church going law abiding young citizens with the good protestant work ethic involved in ?
    But I bet they aren’t the ones Bogarting all the jobs.
    Of course, if you actually favour that stereotype; the problem is where are the Prod employers who Roy imagines are doing all of the discriminating? Surely the knuckle dragging fundie dinosaurs are being driven into the ground by the highly qualified, young, thrusting entrepreneurs of the Republican tiger – West Belfast? Or are they only employing Prods too?

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  28. tacapall (profile) says:

    Reader dont you get it, Catholics are too stupid to be entrepreneurs and even if we were we’re too lazy, its not our fault though its in our genes we’re predisposed to living a life of luxury on state handouts.

    Im sure Roy can answer for himself.

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  29. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    True tacapall I can, though here I need not, the figures speak for themselves Reader.

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  30. Reader (profile) says:

    Roy Walsh: True tacapall I can, though here I need not, the figures speak for themselves Reader.
    As you have surely seen, though figures speak for themselves, they say different things to different people. You apparently have a theory. Great; now get some evidence.

    tacapall: …its not our fault though its in our genes we’re predisposed to living a life of luxury on state handouts.
    I can smell the sarcasm from here, but if you have problem with the genetic theory, take it up with Dec who introduced the notion to this topic. Pickings must be slim if you’re reduced to providing each other with straw men now.

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  31. tacapall (profile) says:

    Reader maybe you didn’t read @Broc_Boyd’s post then.

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  32. Reader (profile) says:

    tacapall: Reader maybe you didn’t read @Broc_Boyd’s post then.
    I’m pretty sure he presents it as cultural, rather than genetic. You probably have similar theories about the lumpen-Prod phenomenon. At least, I hope you do.

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  33. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    Reader, read above, and if you want further evidence of what I claim, research yourself, this taig is busy working, it’s what we do.

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  34. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    Mick
    Data is available by the wheelbarrow load.

    Just take a glimpse at NISRA’s Multiple Deprivation Measure 2010 or earlier versions for a consistent picture of a society in which catholics continues to predominate the ranks of those more socio-economically deprived.

    The responses to date to the post have been fairly predictable, as one commenter has noted.

    We’ve the usual ‘blame Sinn Fein’ brigade, teaming up with those alleging a superior protestant work ethic lay behind the facts.

    Lest we forget, the DUP effectively sectarianised poverty when they cynically used the Orange Order/ UVF riots in Whiterock to demand a funding programme be exclusively funnelled into PUL areas (link below)

    (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4875204.stm)

    Personally, I’m a great believer in objective criteria being the only determining factor guiding public funding, and therefore would not be supportive of a programme aimed at addressing exclusively the long-term unemployed or poor that were of a catholic background or persuasion.

    There is no good reason why a catholic in Dunclug should be prioritised over a protestant in Ballysally in terms of the promotion of employment or anti-poverty strategies.

    But, given the disproportionate composition of the long-term unemployed and impoverished, it is evident that more catholics would gain from such a targeted strategy

    But the question of whether such a programme should be considered is relevant, not least since the evidence exists of politicians and public bodies applying a similarly discriminatory policy in relation to addressing educational underachievement in relation to protestants, using tenuous supporting evidence.

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  35. Reader (profile) says:

    Roy Walsh: …and if you want further evidence of what I claim, research yourself,..
    That isn’t the way it works, and I am sure you know it.

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  36. Reader (profile) says:

    Chris Donnelly: But, given the disproportionate composition of the long-term unemployed and impoverished, it is evident that more catholics would gain from such a targeted strategy
    It’s a tricky point to sustain, though. There are plenty of people perfectly willing to disparage education, aspiration and attainment in unionist areas right up to the point at which failure becomes a communal earner. Then it’s time to swivel the dial back to impoverishment and unemployment in some nationalist areas to bring the funding home.
    So I’m not seeing a consistent message. More discipline required.

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  37. Reader (profile) says:

    Chris Donnelly: Lest we forget, the DUP effectively sectarianised poverty when they cynically used the Orange Order/ UVF riots in Whiterock to demand a funding programme be exclusively funnelled into PUL areas
    But remember the Springvale Education Village – a broadly similar sum of money bought off SF for several crucial years, several years before the DUP got into the act.

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  38. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    It’s a tricky point to sustain, though. There are plenty of people perfectly willing to disparage education, aspiration and attainment in unionist areas right up to the point at which failure becomes a communal earner. Then it’s time to swivel the dial back to impoverishment and unemployment in some nationalist areas to bring the funding home.
    So I’m not seeing a consistent message. More discipline required.

    Reader
    You’re right that many people have been singing off that particular hymn sheet- and not least from within unionist political circles and the controlled sector.

    But, if you’ve followed Slugger for long, you will have noted that I have consistently cautioned against that quite simply because it was not something sustainable by facts which continue to show that more catholic boys leave school without the minimum qualifications expected than protestant boys.

    That’s a pretty stark and inconvenient fact running against that particular narrative.

    Re the Education Village, that was hardly something bought or sold explicitly on the premise that it deliver for exclusively Catholic/ nationalist/ republican people, unlike the funding stream obtained by the DUP as a sweetener ahead of devolution.

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  39. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    It all started when the Protestant Ascendency let Catholics have an education. Then they started looking for work and put Protestant jobs at risk… Blah blah blah!

    As for the Protestant Work Ethic – It doesn’t apply to Ireland. People in the south of this island have a greater work ethic, and unemployed northerners are unemployed due to a genetic predisposition for laziness and aversion to physical activity. I’ve made this point before on Slugger…

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  40. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    any figures for Atheist unemployment? If not, why not?

    The better educated tend to be young, and faithless. So what’s the figures?

    Or do we categorise purely on transubstantiation?

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  41. Nevin (profile) says:

    “Just take a glimpse at NISRA’s Multiple Deprivation Measure 2010″

    Here’s a link.

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  42. Scáth Shéamais (profile) says:

    We’ve the usual ‘blame Sinn Fein’ brigade

    In fairness Chris, you did open the discussion with a reference to “nationalist incompetence”.

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  43. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    Scath Sheamais

    I didn’t open the conversation with that, merely suggested that as the logical outworkings of Alan’s observation on why nationalist reps have failed to make an issue of this in the past or present (the distinction being important as, today, both SF and the SDLP are in a position to effect change.)

    That is a fair point. But there is little of substance in the charge that, because Gerry Adams was West Belfast MP for a long period of time, then SF are to blame for higher levels of catholic poverty. That would ignore the fact that policy formulation and implementation at the level of delivery lay well beyond SF’s reach during those years.

    Indeed, those making such points usually ignore the fact that the SDLP have ‘owned’ Derry for several decades, yet Derry continues to predominate the poverty and deprivation stats. Ditto North Belfast wards(catholic and protestant) remaining amongst the most impoverished throughout unionism’s uninterrupted period of Westminster dominance in the constituency.

    Where constituency level politicians can be at fault is in failing to utilise their influence to make a difference indirectly (during Direct Rule) and, now, directly through Stormont.

    One means of redressing the historical and current imbalance is to take on Invest NI, who continuously fail to promote investment in areas most in need. Another issue is the relocation of public sector jobs away from concentrated centres like East Belfast and North Down and towards other areas of Belfast and beyond.

    But a more imaginative strategy would be to compel businesses tendering for contracts to devise and deliver on strategies to ensure that long-term unemployed are in a position to apply and get jobs that will help break the cycle of poverty/ unemployment/ low aspiration.

    That is something common to many working-class communities, catholic and protestant, and is in the interest of all in society as this cycle is directly associated with many of the other ills plaguing modern society- alcoholism, criminality etc.

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  44. ranger1640 (profile) says:

    Below is an article that appeared in the Andersonstown news in 08.However it was immediately removed and an apology made. The article was luckily put up here before it was removed from the Andersonstown news.

    It details the failings of the Sinn Fein president and long term MP for west Belfast one Mr Gerry Adams. It is as relevant today as the time it was published, the only differenced is we have a diffident Sinn Fein MP.

    Can’t argue with Squinter, he hits the nail on the head. Republicans/nationalists used as Sinn Fein electoral fodder and what do they have to show for it. Middle class republicans/nationalists joining the PSNI for less than 5 years. No major inward investment in west Belfast, even though Gerry Adams is often in the US putting the Sinn Fein collection plate around. He would have been better off bring jobs to west Belfast, and dollars to west Belfast in the way of wages. Than selfishly going to the US to fill Sinn Fein coffers, and the same goes for the rest of Sinn Fein’s MP’s. But as the good people of west Belfast are finding out. You get what elect. The Sinn Fein project is focused on Sinn Fein not their electorate, that is until they are needing elected. All Sinn Fein voters need to ask themselves, what have Sinn Fein done for me. I think you will find the answer in the Squinter article,

    “A former aide of Tony Blair has been making frankly embarrassing revelations in a new book about how close Adams and Blair were. Adams was the Oprah Winfrey of Irish-America. And what did we get? InBev gone and Visteon going. A huge investment conference that holds its nose as it swishes past West Belfast ferrying ministers and Invest NI suits to Hillsborough and Cultra. Adams might have got away with pointing to the lack of investment in his constituency in 1983 and saying: “Nothing to do with me, mate.” 20 years on and you’d buy a house in Ross Street quicker than you’d buy that”.

    “20 years. Two decades. Four parliamentary terms. Four US Presidents. Two Popes. 11 Secretaries of State. Five UN Secretary-Generals. Five Taoisigh. Five Prime Ministers. In Ross Street the wind of change blows in empty Budweiser boxes and despair; it blows out good people and hope.”

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2008/03/20/gerry-must-go/

    Still not convinced??? http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0516/election.html#video

    Watch the second video in this section of three. Listen to Adams spue out cliche after cliche about the peace and Uncle Tom Cobley. The Sinn Fein project is excellent on doctrinal rhetoric, but when it comes to delivering jobs for their electorate they are was useful as Adams memory when it comes to Monty Python songs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoaktW-Lu38&feature=fvst

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  45. tacapall (profile) says:

    “But a more imaginative strategy would be to compel businesses tendering for contracts to devise and deliver on strategies to ensure that long-term unemployed are in a position to apply and get jobs that will help break the cycle of poverty/ unemployment/ low aspiration.”

    What exactly does this mean Chris ? Does this mean compelling businesses tendering for contracts to employ unemployed local labour where the work is to be carried out ? Like for instance An Chultúrlann where major construction work was carried out using no local labour or the various building sites in West Belfast where the workers come from everywhere except West Belfast.

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  46. Brian (profile) says:

    All those unemployed Catholics are actually busy in a still active IRA, secretly training for the great Rising of 2016 to take place in Belfast, a hundred years to the day after the epic Rising took place in Dublin.

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  47. jthree (profile) says:

    Broc, whether he knows it, is articulating what was the position of the British and Irish Communist Organisation (think an ultra version of the Sticks ‘Two Nations’ tendency).

    In essence they said: ‘The fenians seem perfectly happy being publicans and bookies so there’s no need for any of this fair employment carry-on.’

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  48. Barnshee (profile) says:

    “Discrimination seems to be as healthy now as in Brook’s day”

    Repeats.
    NI has the most stringent anti discrimination legislation –(probably) in the the world-it has been in force for decades

    If groups feel disadvantaged a short period of searching for beams in their own eyes might be appropriate before the motes elsewhere are sought.

    Might it just be that they are in fact unemployable?

    As Sherlock said
    Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.

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