Newton Emerson casts a sceptical eye over serial charges of inequality (subs needed) emanating from both of Northern Ireland’s two main parties.He kicks off by claiming that DUP demands for extra government resources in Loyalist communities are not based on specfic need:
“Based on the survey results we conclude that there is no evidence of Catholic/Protestant differences in social capital,” concluded the consultants Deloitte MCS Limited. Worse still the report found that weak community infrastructure is mainly a feature of affluent suburbs, rendering ridiculous the whole concept of linking it to social deprivation. Not surprisingly, this report was not made public.
He then goes on to argue that Sinn Fein’s claim’s of inequality in the job market do not stand up either:
This is not the first time that the NIO has been caught fiddling the figures to flatter a sectarian political agenda. In 2003 Stormont commissioned a report into religious bias in the labour market. Consultants DTZ Pieda concluded that Protestants and Catholics no longer face any discrimination when applying for jobs. In response the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency refused to publish the findings for two years, only reluctantly releasing them this February following a Freedom of Information Act request by Ulster Unionist MLA Dermot Nesbitt.
He concludes that:
The peace process now operates by appeasing two extreme sectarian parties whose electoral appeal relies on exaggerating tribal division. That appeasement has clearly grown to include collaborating with the exaggerations themselves. Because it would undermine the DUP project to point out that Protestants aren’t marginalised in the community and because it would undermine the Sinn Fein project to point out that Catholics aren’t discriminated against in the workplace, the NIO chooses to play along and undermine society instead.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty