NICVA condemns sectarian approach to NIO funding

The umbrella group for voluntary organisations, NICVA, has attacked the NIO for introducing a sectarian element into its funding programmes for local communities in the north. Paul McGill of NICVA, in a stinging attack on the NIO, stated, “We believe the government has been playing a very dangerous game in introducing this sectarian element.” The NIO has rejected the allegations.

  • fair_deal

    So much for republican claims this package gave their communities nothing.

    Old commies never die they just get a job at NICVA.

    Paul McGill began by attacking the government for the mere suggestion of such a package saying it would breach equality duties. The way the document was drawn up ensured problems that were particularly acute in Protestant areas, could be addressed without breaching section 75 duties. Mr McGill’s response is basically to whinge they pulled off what he said was impossible.

    The reason NICVA has been against this stuff from the beginning is it doesn’t want to be asked why it ignored these problems for so long.

    Also considering NICVA’s fair employment record it should be careful about casting stones on sectarianism.

  • Crataegus

    I dislike a sectarian approach to funding and no funding should be put in that context. However it is obvious to anyone who wants to see that the problems in areas like York Road are much worse than say lower Springfield. I’m not surprised that the government was able to meet the requirements of section 75 of the 98 Act.

    All anyone from NIVCA has to do is walk round the corner and compare the Newlodge with Tigers Bay. It may have changed, but last time I had reason to venture into Tiger’s Bay there was extreme dereliction. Dozens of new houses lying empty and boarded up. The place is literally dying as the young and more mobile move out. This is happening right across Loyalist areas in the inner city. Its bad for the areas in question but it is also bad for he city and its economy as we have areas of over and under demand.

    Mind you I think throwing a few million around won’t necessarily solve these problems.

    Really you need a comprehensive development strategy that incorporates social housing and other class uses. Much of the land here, and in similar locations is potentially prime development land and there is scope to increase value. A strategy based on developers greed may produce a more fundamental solution, increase social mix and land use, enable some beleaguered householders to make a profit and break the strangle hole Loyalist paramilitary types have in such areas. It would probably take billions and decades to do a proper job so it has to be market lead.

    Addressing the socio-economic malaise of the York Road area; discuss. What a stinker!

  • johnkingII

    Yip the British govt’s money did’nt go West of The Bann, Poleglass, Ballymurphy, Bloody Sunday the Loughgall Relatives or the Daily Ireland must be wrong.

  • Dec

    However it is obvious to anyone who wants to see that the problems in areas like York Road are much worse than say lower Springfield.

    What problems? How are they so much worse? Why compare York Road with Lower Springfield? Why not compare Whiterock with Holywood?

    …the Newlodge with Tigers Bay. It may have changed, but last time I had reason to venture into Tiger’s Bay there was extreme dereliction. Dozens of new houses lying empty and boarded up.

    Comparing the dereliction of Tigers Bay with non- dereliction of the New Lodge ignores the fudamentally different housing needs of both communities.

  • Loyalist

    Hmmmm… This is the same NICVA that produced a paper alleging that more than 50% of PEACE funding went to Protestants. Utterly discredited organisation.

  • Yokel

    Sectarianism exists where its though to be seen as much as where it actually is and I look orward to watching the posts claiming that government funding is now being allocated on a sectarian basis. Facts are: two communities, never the twain shall meet, thus funding by its very nature will split..who’s fault is that? Id suggest the people who constantly claim sectarianism and bias.

    Compare Whiterock with Holywood, wise up. The only things they have in common is a nice rump of terrorists and criminals and a drugs problem.

  • prod first time buyer

    Hum, how come some PLU areas have no difficulty attracting in investors and young first time buyers, while others can’t even attract people into free housing exec houses??

    Is it anything to do with funding, the NIO, some NIHE conspiracy theory about ‘putback’?

    Nope, it’s to do with the behaviour of the PLU residents.. They make the residents leave and their behaviour makes sure no one else wants to move in

    They shouldn’t be encouraged, and I don’t see how money will make any difference

  • Loyalist

    PLU – well known community-sector acronym. Are you a NICVA employee per chance?

  • Thanks for highlighting the SCOPE story about the government’s response to the taskforce on working class Protestant areas. Anyone who wants to read the details and the editorial can visit http://www.nicva.org.

    It boils down to the simple fact that less than 2% of the total spending of £208 million is specifically allocated to Protestant areas – and all of that is for the Shankill.

    So government certainly hasn’t pulled off a plan that will solve some of the many problems facing these areas.

    Let me assure you of one thing. SCOPE has always argued that there is disadvantage in working class Protestant areas, as has NICVA generally. Far from ignoring poverty and exclusion in these areas NICVA has actively campaigned for an anti-poverty strategy covering all of Northern Ireland. Rightly or wrongly we believe we should focus on need, not on the religion of people who suffer from it.

    Last year we involved the two main Unionist parties in the campaign and they spoke in support of a better, more effective anti-poverty strategy regardless of religion.

    As for the dereliction in Tiger’s Bay and York Road, one of our demands is an expansion of social housing, as well as an attack on poverty, unemployment, economic inactivity, pay inequalities and many more things that affect Catholics, Protestants and others.

    On the issue of Section 75, the simple fact is that the government has not carried out an equality impact assessment so we cannot say its initiative for Protestant areas complies with Section 75. Almost certainly it does not.

    Finally, neither NICVA nor SCOPE ever alleged that more than 50% of PEACE funding went to Protestants. SCOPE did report on a study by PricewaterhouseCooper which showed that applications from Protestant groups for building community infrastructure were more likely to be accepted than those from mixed or Catholic areas and that 57% of the funding went to Protestant areas. The point is that claims of weak community infrastructure in Protestants have not been proven.

    SCOPE’s view and that of NICVA remains that we should target need as defined objectively. We’re on a dangerous path if we decide to spend money simply because an area is Catholic, Protestant or mixed.

    Paul Mc Gill

  • Animus

    Tell us about NICVA’s fair employment problems Fair Deal. I’m not sure you have much of a claim to back up there, but while stones are being cast…

    NICVA certainly has some issues but a blanket statement they are utterly discredited is rubbish.

  • Crataegus

    Paul McGill

    SCOPE’s view and that of NICVA remains that we should target need as defined objectively. We’re on a dangerous path if we decide to spend money simply because an area is Catholic, Protestant or mixed.

    Few could disagree with that.

    My observations on some of the Loyalist areas are that the young families who can tend to move out. There is a major problem with the local paramilitary organisations and peoples perception of the areas.. I am convinced that if there were high density developments and some overall plan for each of the areas you could redevelop at no overall cost to the government, provide more social housing and employment opportunity than there is at present, provide better amenities and a more diverse usage and wider mix of occupancy. You would be providing opportunity for developers and there would be a considerable incentive as the up lift in asset value as development proceeded would be considerable. Good for the local community, the economy and developers.

    To do it you need a Development Agency, (Laganside on steroids) and invest in planning, services and getting the initial projects started. Perhaps also consider rates breaks for businesses and waive the charging of rates on empty commercial property in such areas.

    If you take the area where you are and to the East of Yorkgate up to the Antrim Road as an example, it is on major bus routes, close to the city centre, rail station, direct access to the main road network, Cinema and shops in place, Parks, swimming pool, leisure centre, plenty of derelict and underused land, it’s a gift for a comprehensive development strategy. However it needs to be done within an overall framework and plan and developers have to know it will happen and the local community need to know that their lot will improve.

    It will never happen if we try to do it piece meal, no one will stick their neck out and why should they? scale of investment needed is colossal.

  • David Cameron

    Hmm. Fair Deal’s comments about NICVA’s fair employment issues seems rather reminiscent of the time GW Bush declared swiss cheese ‘ineffective’: http://www.cbc.ca/story/news/national/2001/02/24/blair_bush010224.html

    I wonder if Fair Deal would like to bring any evidence of successful FEC or Equality Commission cases to the site?

    If not, perhaps he would care to address the issue of government spin on funding for protestant areas.

  • fair_deal

    Animus

    Nice to see you back you haven;t be about for a while.

    Animus/David Cameron

    “Tell us about NICVA’s fair employment problems Fair Deal. I’m not sure you have much of a claim to back up there, but while stones are being cast…”

    Gladly. Are Equality Commission reports good enough for you?

    NICVA’s workforce has a substantial under-representation of Protestants and that under-representation has been getting systematically worse.

    2004 P[40.5%] RC[59.5%]
    http://www.equalityni.org/uploads/pdf/MonRepNo15P2.pdf
    2003 P[42.4%] RC [57.6%]
    http://www.equalityni.org/uploads/pdf/MonRepNo14.PDF
    2002 P[46.9%] RC [53.1%]
    http://www.equalityni.org/uploads/pdf/MonitoringReNo13.PDF
    2001 P [48.1%] RC [51.9%]
    http://www.equalityni.org/uploads/pdf/2001.pdf

    In terms of organisations that are to act as supports to the voluntary and community sector they are not the worse offender e.g. RCN is much worse.

    “they are utterly discredited is rubbish. ”

    Loyalist said that not me.

  • When are we prods going to realise we’re being taken for ride. Do we honestly think the government are going to introduce something which suits the prods only. If people open their eyes, they’ll see that a week or two before Hanson announced his already allocated package, his dept announced new neighbourhood renewal areas the majority of which were catholic/nationalist areas and even some republican and nationalist politicians were gobsmacked as to how some of the areas got in.

    NICVA may have it’s internal problems but we should be praising them for stating what some protestant communities already know – not slating them, but then we are in N.I.

    By the way has anybody tried to find out how to acces the Hanson, I have and no matter who I talk to in govt nobody knows, some depts I contacted didn’t even know what I was talking about!!!!!!

  • Animus

    Thanks for noticing FD – always nice to be missed.

    I worked for NICVA until 2003 – I must have knocked off the prod balance 😉 I wouldn’t say that 40/60 is a significant underbalance though. I mean c’mon, there aren’t that many staff in NICVA for one thing. And I would hate to see staff appointed merely because they fit the profile of employee monitoring returns. NICVA has been accused of being more Catholic-friendly for a long time, but their membership is quite broad and I don’t think that criticism fits. You may be surprised to know that many community groups, particularly communities of interest, don’t really care about the sectarian divide but concentrate on their particular issues instead (environment, women, etc)

    “In terms of organisations that are to act as supports to the voluntary and community sector they are not the worse offender”
    I hope you’re not saying that Catholic workers can’t give support to their Protestant brethren. Do I have to be black to support anti-racism work? Do I have to be gay to be sympathetic to homophobia? If NICVA had a 20/80 workforce split, I might be concerned, but it doesn’t.

    Yes, you’re right it was Loyalist who claimed NICVA are crap. I should have been more clear.

  • fair_deal

    Animus

    While your perspective is interesting as an insight but not relevant to the theme. NICVA is failing to deliver what it demands of others.

    “I wouldn’t say that 40/60 is a significant underbalance though.”

    It is deteriorating. It is an imblance of 16% and growing. How bad does it have to be before it concerns you?

    “I mean c’mon, there aren’t that many staff in NICVA for one thing.”

    Plenty of other large and small bodies manage it. Also in this sector it is not alone in such imbalances, asking why is a legitimate question.

    “I would hate to see staff appointed merely because they fit the profile of employee monitoring returns”

    Are you saying that Protestants are less likely to be capable of fulfilling the requirements of NICVA jobs?

    “You may be surprised to know that many community groups, particularly communities of interest, don’t really care about the sectarian divide but concentrate on their particular issues instead (environment, women, etc)”

    I though equality was a concern across all sections of NI. I have always found the women sector very active on equality issues.

    “I hope you’re not saying that Catholic workers can’t give support to their Protestant brethren.”

    No. I am not.

    “Do I have to be black to support anti-racism work? Do I have to be gay to be sympathetic to homophobia?”

    In my opinion no.

    “If NICVA had a 20/80 workforce split, I might be concerned,”

    RCN employs 34 people and it has less that 10 protestants. If we are kind and say they have nine that means it is a 73%/27% split. Enough to concern you?

  • fair_deal

    “SCOPE did report on a study by PricewaterhouseCooper which showed that applications from Protestant groups for building community infrastructure were more likely to be accepted than those from mixed or Catholic areas and that 57% of the funding went to Protestant areas”

    Research based on a postcode methodology. A methodology that south belfast partnership board report showed produced highly inaccurate numbers. Using the same methodology south Belfast recieved £56m when it received £6m

  • Animus

    Well, it would depend on the profile of people applying too. If lots of Protestants are applying for posts and being knocked back, that might be worth looking at the reasons.

    “I would hate to see staff appointed merely because they fit the profile of employee monitoring returns”

    ‘Are you saying that Protestants are less likely to be capable of fulfilling the requirements of NICVA jobs?’
    Not at all – but if it came close between a Catholic and a Protestant, would you appoint the Protestant just because you needed to make up numbers?

    The balance is deteriorating, yes, but we’ll see next year. Plus ‘foreign’ staff don’t count for the records, so are excluded. The difference can be explained if only 1 or 2 staff change. And if you’re going to be picky, what about looking at who has the management positions? If there is a split, but more Protestants have managerial roles, what does that say? I am not worried about a small difference, and I think it’s a bit small-minded to hold NICVA to such a standard, when many other groups don’t.

    NICVA is not demanding a 50/50 workforce. I couldn’t comment on RCN’s staff split, although I am aware that when they advertised for a number of posts last year they had trouble even attracting applicants.

    Being concerned about equality and concentrating on sectarianism are two different animals. For a woman’s group, the identity as a woman may supercede the religious tag. Being concerned about equality in the main doesn’t mean that groups are actively working against sectarianism.

  • fair_deal

    Animus

    Thank you taking the time to offer a generic description explanation of how recruitment works.

    I am aware of what can and cannot effect the balance of a workforce. However, NICVA has an imbalance and one that is deteriorating. Either it is ignoring the issue or what it is doing isn’t working.

    The rate of staff turnover isn’t available for NICVA nor is the breakdown of the management.

    “Plus ‘foreign’ staff don’t count for the records, so are excluded.”

    If they don’t count, how are they relevant to the stats?

    “Not at all – but if it came close between a Catholic and a Protestant, would you appoint the Protestant just because you needed to make up numbers?”

    The best candidate should get it.

    “I think it’s a bit small-minded to hold NICVA to such a standard”

    I hold them to the same standard as they wish to hold others.

    “Being concerned about equality and concentrating on sectarianism”

    An inequitable situation is an equality issue whether that inequity is on a religious or other basis. Neither does it become sectarianism simply because religious affiliation is involved. The first people to throw the charge of sectarianism in this circumstance were NICVA.

    “I couldn’t comment on RCN’s staff split,”

    Rather coy of you? Why ever not?

  • Animus

    I wasn’t offering an explanation of how recruitment works, sorry if you thought so.

    I can’t comment on RCN because I don’t know their structure – nothing to do with being coy. Yeah, the foreign thing wouldn’t impact, unless they designated. Mea culpa.

    I do know that at NICVA, the division of managerial posts are nearly 50/50. I still don’t see that NICVA are calling for everyone to have a 50/50 workforce. Do you know if they are addressing the issue, or are you just guessing that they are not? The deterioration is still quite small, 1-2 percent per year over a four years is not that meaningful, particulary if turnover is low – might be more useful to look at longer term stats. It might also be useful to look at the make up of staff in the community and voluntary sector as a whole. Are more Catholics working in the sector? Staff are generally leaving one org in the sector to join NICVA, right?

    Finally, I don’t think that any organisation calling for an end to inequality should be forced to be a paragon of virtue in all areas. I don’t mean that they should be slack (the Equality Commission being sued by its own member of staff comes to mind), but I don’t consider it fair to expect NICVA to operate in vacuum either. As far as I know, there are no current members of staff who are from a minority ethnic background, but that shouldn’t stop organisations like NICVA from speaking out against racism either.

  • fair_deal

    “I wasn’t offering an explanation of how recruitment works, sorry if you thought so.”

    Fair enough my misinterpretation no apology necessary

    “Do you know if they are addressing the issue, or are you just guessing that they are not?”

    All I know is what the stats show that is why I put in two scenarios ie not addressing or trying but not succeeding

    “It might also be useful to look at the make up of staff in the community and voluntary sector as a whole. Are more Catholics working in the sector? Staff are generally leaving one org in the sector to join NICVA, right?”

    I agree it would be useful. However, it is worth pointing out NICVA also rejects claims there is under-development in Protestant communities so the logic of that argument would be that an imbalance is unlikely.

  • Animus

    The counter side of that argument may be that Catholic areas need more development, therefore more staff are likely to be Catholic themselves. (This is an overall picture, not just particular areas.) This would mean that Protestants may be less likely to go into this area of work. It would also be interesting to find out where staff go to – are Protestant staff leaving to take up higher positions elsewhere? I know I’m drawing this out a bit, but four years of monitoring returns gives a snapshot, it doesn’t tell a story.

  • fair_deal

    “The counter side of that argument may be that Catholic areas need more development, therefore more staff are likely to be Catholic themselves.”

    There may indeed be a counter argument but not one I am aware of NICVA making.

    “It would also be interesting to find out where staff go to”

    I agree with the caution that research does not become a reason for complete inaction.

    “four years of monitoring returns gives a snapshot, it doesn’t tell a story.”

    One or two years I would accept that and if there was a fluctuation but four years with a distinct trend I think has moved beyond a snapshot.

  • Animus

    Have a look at their State of the Sector report – it may well be an argument NICVA are making. But in presenting anything to the media, it’s best to keep with one message, don’t you think? They were making one point to the NIO, and it can be confusing (not least to the NIO) to pack too much into an inital press release.

    If more Prot. staff show up in next year’s monitoring return, will you have considered NICVA to have done its job?

  • fair_deal

    Also as you raised earlier development is not restricted to identity communities there are also communities of interest.

    It is from this entire pool that the NICVA would be recruiting from. I can’t think of any particular reason why Protestants would be under-represented in this broader pool. Any suggestions?

  • fair_deal

    “If more Prot. staff show up in next year’s monitoring return, will you have considered NICVA to have done its job? ”

    Depends on the change if it is a small change then they will have started their job. If it is a balanced workforce then they will have done their job.

  • fair_deal

    Furthemore the prot lower catholic higher development arguments are not mutually exclusive. Both could be contributing to an possible imbalance in the recruitment pool.

  • Animus

    How much can they change? There is a 40/60 split. How many areas of Belfast could claim that sort of split in housing terms? Having had a brief look at the monitoring returns, most organisations fall well short of a 40/60. I really think you’re setting the bar at a silly level. One or two new staff could either push the ‘imbalance’ further or correct it – that is really all it would take. I still fail to see what the problem is here. What is balance to you? My household is 66% male, 33% female. Is that acceptable or should we do something to fix the gender imbalance?

  • Rapunsel

    SCOPE did report on a study by PricewaterhouseCooper which showed that applications from Protestant groups for building community infrastructure were more likely to be accepted than those from mixed or Catholic areas and that 57% of the funding went to Protestant areas”

    Research based on a postcode methodology. A methodology that south belfast partnership board report showed produced highly inaccurate numbers. Using the same methodology south Belfast recieved £56m when it received £6m ”

    Fair Deal

    Sorry to go of on a tangent , but this comment is seriously flawed in the context of comment on Measure 2.7. The PWC report was prepared at the instigation of the Department of Finance and Personnel and concerned the allocation of funds from Measure 2.7 of the then Peace II Programme as administered by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. Postcodes were used but the funding split between both communities was calculated using the Haase method, where the funding to electoral wards was divided based on the demographics of that ward. Very few headquarter organisations based in South belfast or anywhere else for that matter benefited from Measure 2.7 funding. This was very much a local funding Measure with money going to local community based organisations. If anything the figure of 57% allocation to the protestant community is likely to be an under representation of Measure 2.7 because where funding was allocated to a group working exclusively with protestants in a mixed community , the analysis split that funding based on the demographics of the electoral ward thus allocating a benefit to the catholic comunity in that area where that benefit did not exist.

    What is interesting in all of this is the fact that the report was kept hidden by the SEUPB and the DSD as it did not provide the justification for the alocation of funding on a sectarian basis through the likes of the local community fund and the new funding that Paul McGill has been critical of. Was it not only after a fredom of information request from NICVA that the information was made public?

    In my view funding should be allocated on the basis of need and if it is to be allocated to independent groups then on their ability to effectively address that need.
    I would be sceptical if any groups in the community and voluntary sector are doing anything else other than addresing symptoms and seeking to continue to exist because they exist and I would be even more sceptical if any of the peace funding has contributed one iota to peace and reconciliation , I’m unaware of any evidence on a macro scale that it has.

    The allocation should surely be blind to the religion or community background of the applicants but take into account the context and needs within that community whereever it might be or whomever it might be composed of. In my view thre is no doubt that government and others including those distributing funds are seeking to introduce a sectarian element to the distribution of public funds in an attempt to buy off loyalism and also to met demands from the DUP. This will probably go full circle in due course with a counter balancing effort for the catholic and nationalist community. Where will it all end?

    In terms of NICVA and fair employment , it looks to me like they have a mixed workforce, they also did they not purposely build their new premises in a blighted interface area of North Belfast and in my previous life in the community and voluntary sector I never received anything else than good help and support from them. I never asked the religion of those providing that support and neither did I care. One can immediately think of other organisations working in the community and voluntary sector and elsewhere for which statistics on fair employment might prove useful and interesting. Ther are very many so called “single identity” ( a terribly offensive and erroneous trm if ever there was one) organisations out there if anyone can help us out. I can immediately think of one which appears to have been established only to work with the protestant community

    Community Convention Company Limited

    might be a start — there are no doubt others.

  • fair_deal

    “Postcodes were used but the funding split between both communities was calculated using the Haase method”

    Postcode leads to misallocations. The Haase method reinforces it. The assumption of common benefit across a ward and thus communities is very questionable.

    Also in terms of monitoring the impact and distribution of Peace monies the frustrating thing is that the IFB’s have demanded of projects a significant amount of data on who the beneficiaries of Peace funding are. However, this is not properly collated/computerised so much clearer and accurate answers could be developed with the information they already have.

    “What is interesting in all of this is the fact that the report was kept hidden by the SEUPB and the DSD”

    You are mixing up two different reports. The SEUPB report was always made available. The second report DSD junked was a Deloitte Touche report. The key flaw in its methodology was it assumed number of groups = healthy social capital.

    “Very few headquarter organisations based in South Belfast or anywhere else for that matter benefited from Measure 2.7 funding. This was very much a local funding Measure with money going to local community based organisations.”

    The first is an assumption which could be wrong or right. Also a significant proportion of local community based organisations service one section or primarily one section of the community bringing into the effectiveness of Haase.

    “I never received anything else than good help and support from them. I never asked the religion of those providing that support and neither did I care.”

    Personally I have received poor support/help on four seperate occasions. Never asked religion either. I know others who have had good experiences and others who have bad.

    Affability and helpfulness aside, NICVA has a responsibility as an employer and it is persistently failing on that. If it raises questions on the issue of equality then it should be held up to the same scrutiny and standards.

    As regards other employers in the voluntary sector, they should be held to the same standards ie they have a commitment to equal opprtunities follow proper recruitment procedures and have a staff reflective of their catchment/recruitment pool where they don’t they engage in the actions necessary to tackle it.

    As lots of the employers in the sector are below the reporting limit a clear picture of the voluntary sector doesn’t exist hence why Animus’s suggestion of looking at that would be interesting.