Social capital deficit in protestant areas

Interesting event in Lisburn recently which had Robert Putnam as a keynote speaker. Most of the speakers quoted assert that working class protestant areas are feeling isolated and vulnerable. According to Putnam this indicates a weakness in social capital – something of a norm for most de industrialised societies in the west.It’s interesting also to note that the Life and Times survey of 2002 noted significantly different levels of social engagement between protestant middle classes who have higher levels of membership of clubs and involvement in church activities than those in working class loyalist areas.

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

  • irishman

    Also speaking at the conference were representatives from the Community Convention, a body set up by the DSD and tasked with tackling deprivation in “protestant areas.”

    This made the Andersonstown News today (Monday) as Sinn Fein councillors in Lisburn spoke out against the fact that a government department was so openly and shamelessly seeking to channel government funds into areas on the basis that they prove themselves to be exclusively protestant.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This made the Andersonstown News today (Monday) as Sinn Fein councillors in Lisburn spoke out against the fact that a government department was so openly and shamelessly seeking to channel government funds into areas on the basis that they prove themselves to be exclusively protestant.

    This is nothing more than the logic that Sinn Fein champion themselves. It’s wrong – but it’s hypocritical for Sinn Fein to criticize a logical outworking of their own tribalist, segretationist approach to dealing with poverty and deprivation.

  • Pete Baker


    Not to mention echoing what was said here on Slugger back on 18th October

  • “to channel government funds into areas on the basis that they prove themselves to be exclusively protestant”

    This is a complete fabrication. The Community Convention and Development Company Limited is NOT a funding body and certainly not on the basis it is 100% of one religion.

    The Andersonstown News article will be the subject of a Press Complaint because of the inaccurate and false claims it makes about the work of the Community Convention and Development Company Limited.

    The Conventions are a planning and cohesion process. This approach is being piloted as it has been repeatedly identified by statutory bodies that they find engagement with Protestant Unionist Loyalist communities difficult because of the fractionalism and flaws in the social capital of Protestant Unionist Loyalist communities. PUL communities themselves have identified this as a problem. Statutory bodies often receive multiple and conflicting messages. This impairs their practical work and hampers policy development.

    When actions and needs are identified these communities will have to try to secure the support from exisitng funding streams on the same basis as every other community in Northern Ireland.

    The Company will also lobby for policy change when issues are identified just like many other organisations.

  • Ignored again

    Strange that the worse areas for depravation, lack of amenities and unemployment are the Nationalist areas of Twinbrook and Poleglass which again are being ignored by Lisburn Council.

    Proof again if its needed, that Liburn is a cold house for Catholics.

  • fair _deal

    The Andytown news piece is about the Department for Social Development not Lisburn Council.

    By the way the evil and discrimatory DSD of Paul Butler’s imagination is the same DSD that has included both as the Colin area partnership for extra public investment under its Neighbourhood Renewal programme.

  • The Beach Tree


    I assume you are the Lee Reynolds who famously challenged James Molyneaux for leadership of the UUP?

    The charge is not that your organisation is a funding body, (a straw man argument, Lee, and you should know better) but that your organisation was specifically set up to facilitate a funding body, namely the department, to channel money to an area specifically based on its perceived religious and political background, by providing the appearance of a unified and coherent voice.

    Do you deny that charge?

  • idunnomeself


    Read the (very good) NILT report, don’t see where it says that working class Protestant/ Loyalist areas are lacking social capital.

    Don’t see it anywhere.

    It actually tries to bust the myth that they are-pointing out the many ways that they have good social capital, ways that are not reflected in Nationalist areas.

    Like church organisations, Bands, Sports clubs.

    Mind just because there is lots of social capital doesn’t mean that people won’t all think different things.

    Maybe the issue is that Nationalist/ Catholic areas have such poor social capital that one organisation can appear to speak for everyone, while actually disguising differences in opinion which can’t express themselves.

  • steve48

    While not involved in the CC&DC the basis on which it is trying to address the issues is correct. Namely that a lack of social capital in unionist areas is a problem when it comes to addressing the causes of deprivation. It would however be grossly inaccurate to identify the problems in unionist areas as a lack of access to short term funding. This in fact is a symptom of a far wider problem.

    The genesis in much of this comes not from the community but from the various government departments who have long identified the unionist working class areas as being the most difficult to engage with.

    There is no denying that deprivation exists across all communities the issue is that nationalist communities appear to have a better relationship with key agencies and some level of joined up thinking about how to address the problems.

  • james orr

    Beach Tree –
    Its hardly a “charge”, this is not a courtroom and I wonder why you are being so aggressive?

    Even if your assumption is correct, this isn’t the first time that govt depts have adopted this approach for targeted areas and communities, as fair deal has pointed out. There are numerous schemes being run across the TSN areas in the same way.

    This is a productive use of public funds and I hope the initiative succeeds in its objective. CCDC has a hard job ahead, but its a job that needs to be done. Good luck to them.

  • crat

    It should be pointed out that Mr Reynolds with his straw man arguments and frankly ludicrous mentions of a PCC representation uses the term PUL in his response.

    PUL – Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist.

    His organisation is a Protestant only support organisation. There is no equivalent for any other community. The former challenger for leadership of the UUP, short-lived (fictional?) SPHA leader and now CCDC Executive has a brass neck claiming ‘and certainly not on the basis it is 100% of one religion.’

    Everything to do with this body is Protestants only, pretty much the way Mr Reynolds’ CV reads.

    His complaint should be interesting, hopefully the ATN will keep us up to date I suspect Mr Reynolds won’t be mentioning it ever again.

  • irishman


    Spot-on. I personally am looking forward to the Press Complaint. Bring it on ‘Straw’ Man…….

  • The Beach Tree

    Not guilty m’lud

    “The charge is not that your organisation is a funding body”

    Read the Andytown News that is one of the direct claims made.

    “to channel money to an area specifically based on its perceived religious and political background”

    DSD has given no commitment to fund any of the recommendations of Community Conventions. Any proposals will be subject to the same processes as any other project.


    “His organisation is a Protestant only support organisation. There is no equivalent for any other community.”

    a) The CC&DC Ltd is an equal opportunites employer.
    b) The approach the CC&DC Ltd follows leaves it to the communities it works with to decide whom it wishes to include in the process and when. PUL communities are our primary focus but were the process goes is up to individual communities. For example, one area is discussing how it can engage minority ethnic groups in the Convention another is examining how to include a religiously mixed community.
    c) Bonding and bridging social capital are interdependent and inter-related.
    d) There are numerous equivalents e.g. Republican and Loyalist ex-prisoners groups, minority ethnic groups. Groups designed to work with discrete communities (geographical, interest based etc) is a central plank of the community development approach.
    There is no direct Catholic/Nationalist/Republican equivalent but whether they need or wish to take such an approach to social capital issues is a matter for that community to determine and decide.


    A PCC complaint will be submitted as in the Company’s opinion the Andytown News has breached:

    1 Accuracy
    i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
    iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

    Also if it does not act it will be in breach of

    ii) A significant inaccuracy, mis-leading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.

    Personal note

    a) There is a ball not man rule on here.
    b) “short-lived (fictional?) SPHA leader”
    I was chair of SPHA for a number of years. Under my chairmanship it produced a research report into Belfast St Patrick’s Day Celebrations. It produced two touring exhibitions and distributed 10,000 complementary leaflets. It produced a teaching pack about St Patrick’s life for Key Stage 3 pupils that was distributed to all secondary schools in Belfast. It also ran a series of cultural nights to encourage interest in Patrick and celebration of his life. It also worked with a number of communities on St Patrick’s day events. It was funded to carry out this work by the Belfast European Partnership Board and some local events were supported by Belfast City Council. It was not fictional and if you think SPHA trying to get more people to celebrate an inclusive St Patrick’s day is a bad thing so be it.

  • stu

    Lee Reynolds-


  • Concerned Loyalist

    I welcome any “body” which highlights and addresses the issue of social and economic deprivation in Protestant working-class areas and the sense of isolation and marginalization that permeates these Loyalist communities.

    There’s an old adage that ties in perfectly:
    “A working man doesn’t throw stones”.

  • tok

    I remember lee reynolds on talk back a number of years ago saying that he would never enter politics again after he and a number of ultra hardliners in the uup lanched a leadership bid against jim molyneaux I new this would not be the case , he is obviously using this body as a spring board for politics most likely the dup via stirringt up as much tension as possible lee just tell us this is the case , it is too further your ambitions and enhance your long forgotten profile

  • Pete Baker


    Play the ball!