Details of the proposed package for deprived loyalist communities have begun to emerge and received a lukewarm response from the DUP and UUP.
The DUP’s Nelson McCausland sees it as a start:
“This is a recognition by government that there is a problem and it is another step along what will have to be a long road to equality.”
While the UUP Leader, Sir Reg Empey, highlights how government cuts elsewhere weaken any package:
“I think the minister is trying his best to put a package together to deal with deprivation in a number of areas – primarily loyalist areas – but not exclusively, but the problem is that this is a cross-government issue. A couple of days ago, the Belfast Education and Library Board cut £6.5m out of its budget – a very high percentage of that cut will apply in loyalist areas. Given that educational under-achievement in the worst 15 wards in Northern Ireland – 13 are in loyalist wards – how can you fix a situation in a loyalist area when one government department is taking money out while another is putting it in?”
Sinn Fein have been getting their complaints in before it is announced too. The Daily Ireland also had a full page column attacking the notion of investment in deprived loyalist communities even if its evidence was scant.