Discriminatory Funding of PUL areas to be first casualty of Power-sharing Executive?

The SDLP are considering taking legal action over government schemes which specifically rule out catholic areas for funding. The Arts Council awards scheme and Belfast Education and Library Board schemes highlighted restrict funding to Protestant areas exclusively.
Interestingly, the controversial Renewing Communities fund- launched last year by the British government and under which both awards schemes mentioned were initiated- will shortly fall within the Executive remit of Margaret Ritchie, the SDLP’s solitary Minister.

Sinn Fein has also expressed concerns about the failure of the Department of Social Development to equality proof some funding decisions for PUL areas, particularly the decision to give £98,000 to one project in West Belfast which was heavily crticised by the Audit Office.

This follows from the DSD decision to further fund the Community Convention Development Company.

  • Eoin

    “Interestingly, the controversial Renewing Communities fund- launched last year by the British government and under which both awards schemes mentioned were initiated- will shortly fall within the Executive remit of Margaret Ritchie, the SDLP’s solitary Minister. ”

    Looks like Margaret Ritchie has her eye firmly on the ball! When I first heard rumours that this was going to happen, my first reaction was one of amazement. “Can they really do this?” I for one am of the opinion that this is discriminatory. This will definately be an interesting one to follow

  • pondersomething

    It’s this sort of trying to out-tribal SF that have got the SDLP into the total mess they are in now.

    They seem to have all but completely abandoned Hume’s idea of “uniting the peoples” in favour of flag-waving nationalism and tribalism – and this statement confirms they haven’t learnt the lessen of a few weeks ago, that you can’t out-tribal the extremes.

    The problem of deprived PUL areas is widely acknowledged – you only need to compare the vitality of the Falls road community with the deprivation on the Shankill to realise that loyalist areas really need a leg up.

    More than a few SF members who I know would agree that it is actually in the interest of the entire community here for the exclusion felt by people living in loyalist areas to be pro-actively addressed.

    The SDLP should jettison this kind of faux tough-guy tribalism and instead pursue decent cross-community politics. There is no future for them in trying to out-tribal Sinn Fein – whereas there just might be a future in trying to out-centre-ground them.

    (Exactly the same could be said about the UUP!)

  • Comrade Stalin

    The problem of deprived PUL areas is widely acknowledged – you only need to compare the vitality of the Falls road community with the deprivation on the Shankill to realise that loyalist areas really need a leg up.

    If the people of the Shankill want to continue supporting the ongoing existence of the UDA and UVF who racketeer their communities and prevent businesses from moving in, then who are we to stop them ?

  • Greenflag

    Where is that condescending Capt O’Neill when he’s needed most ?

    ‘Can’t the SDLP now see they see that if they gave jobs and decent housing and good education to the deprived Protestants of the Shankill these people would soon start to behave like middle class Catholics and would have vibrant go ahead communities etc etc etc ‘

    So it’s not only Father Jack or the British Tories that hate the poor ? The nouveau riche SDLP have now joined the fray .

    Is the SDLP so devoid of ideas that this is all they can come up with ? Maybe they’d better keep away from FF as potential partners and try Mr Cameron’s crew instead ?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    PS: “More than a few SF members who I know would agree that it is actually in the interest of the entire community here for the exclusion felt by people living in loyalist areas to be pro-actively addressed. ”

    And how is discrimination in funding going to accomplish this? Likewise, simply throwing money at a problem is no solution. Lastly, so long as these areas remain “loyalist areas, in thrall to the Godfathers of the street, why should *ANY* politicians worry? If they prefer the rule of the thugs to that of their elected officials, who problem is that? The Loyalist organizations “contributed” heavily to the decline of these areas and, since they appear to be the defacto rulers, let them fund these events if they want tribal-oriented funding.

    PS: “The SDLP should jettison this kind of faux tough-guy tribalism and instead pursue decent cross-community politics. There is no future for them in trying to out-tribal Sinn Fein – whereas there just might be a future in trying to out-centre-ground them. ”

    Pulling the plug on tribal-centric funding *IS* (or at least should be) the thinking of the political middle.

  • Reader

    Greenflag: Where is that condescending Capt O’Neill when he’s needed most ?
    That’s the point, isn’t it? O’Neill was an upper class unionist talking to middle class unionists. Of course he sounded condescending. But if he had carried his audience, there might have been no troubles. Because, as well as being condescending, he was correct.

  • Roisin

    The last study I read said that working class unionist (or loyalist if you must) areas still had more money than working class nationalist areas.

    Money isn’t the problem, it’s the bigoted thug culture that political unionism has largely nurtured throughout the so-called ‘troubles’, and refused to bring to heel in the wake of the GFA as they sought to destabilise the process.

    Chickens have a habit of coming home to roost.

  • observer

    long as these areas remain “loyalist areas, in thrall to the Godfathers of the street, why should *ANY* politicians worry? If they prefer the rule of the thugs to that of their elected officials, who problem is that? –

    dREAD The fact is that Loyalists ,unlike catholics, continue to repudiate the likes of the UDA at the ballot box

    while catholics continue to vote for the political apologists for terror loyalists vote for constitutional parties en masse.

  • IJP

    Of course it’s discriminatory.

    Mind, so is 50/50 recruitment and I don’t see the SDLP complaining about that.

    The real issue is that it is highly dubious that “single identity” projects work. The difficulty is not “people not being aware of their identity”, if anything it’s the opposite. The difficulty is that we keep selling division as a legitimate way to run, govern and operate our society.

    It isn’t.

    Comrade

    A little harsh this time, I feel.

    There are plenty of people in Shankill who want to move on from paramilitarism.

    They’re hardly helped by a Government intent on funding it!

  • Roisin

    [i]dREAD The fact is that Loyalists ,unlike catholics, continue to repudiate the likes of the UDA at the ballot box

    while catholics continue to vote for the political apologists for terror loyalists vote for constitutional parties en masse.[/i]

    Hmmm. Must be something about those “constitutional parties” of unionism that attracts the violent loyalist/unionist voter “en masse”. What do you suppose that is, observer?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    observer: “The fact is that Loyalists ,unlike catholics, continue to repudiate the likes of the UDA at the ballot box ”

    And what changes on the ground has that wrought, observer?

    Hell, the gov’t is kot-towing to these thugs, perpetuating the notion there is a “good” UDA and a “bad” UDA. Likewise, Unionism claims to loath these thugs, but, despite the support of the people who live in these neighborhoods, lack the courage to beard these thugs, either political or through the police.

    The pattern is and has been that the Loyalist neighborhoods vote for Unionism and Unionists leave the Loyalist gangsters to their own devices.

    observer: “while catholics continue to vote for the political apologists for terror loyalists vote for constitutional parties en masse. ”

    And yet the constitutional parties allow their supporters to languish under the thumbs of the likes of the UDA and UVF. Who has more power in Loyalist areas, the thugs on the streets or the city fathers, hwo have to ask “Mama may I?” to paint curbs or take down flags or remove shameful sectarian displays lauding the murder of Catholic teens?

  • Eoin

    pondersomething :- ”It’s this sort of trying to out-tribal SF that have got the SDLP into the total mess they are in now. “

    Greenflag :- ”The nouveau riche SDLP have now joined the fray .“

    ”Is the SDLP so devoid of ideas that this is all they can come up with ?

    Same old Shinner shite that adds up to nothing else than yet more SDLP bashing… Mark Durkan must know when his party is on to something by the over the top reactions of the SS here on the Slug.

    pondersomething fails to mention SF’s attempts at trying to come across as more moderate than the SDLP, even though SF condones the treasonous actions of the Provisional Movement. Talk about sycophantic hypocrisy! Like Greenflag, SF and their supports are in no position to lecture or patronize any Irish party. Their condescending tone just shows what they have to contribute to any debate here on the Slug; little more than sniping and jeering.

    If the grants aimed at Protestant areas actually are breaking the law, then the SDLP is right to challenge this; not to prevent the grants from going to those communities but to see that it is done fairly and equitably. It is the right the call. No doubt their lawyers have looked at this and believe there is a case to be had. It would be far worse if they believed this but did nothing. Let’s have the case and see what comes of it. Either way, the grant system in place will be better for it as a result!

  • heck

    observer: “The fact is that Loyalists ,unlike catholics, continue to repudiate the likes of the UDA at the ballot box “

    maybe this is part of the problem. Take the example of the 11+. Residents in underclass unionist areas like the shankill road and sandy row vote for middle class unionist parties who don’t reflect their interests. These parties pandered to middle class unionists by making academic selection a precondition for treating catholics as equals. While this is to the benefit of residents of the malone road and North Down it is not to the benefit of shankill road residents. Working class catholic areas voted for a party that represented their economic interests ( and ignored the ex terrorist label that unionists and the media parrot).

    Perhaps working class loyalists need a party that represents their interests. It’s just that the UDA are not up to the task.

  • John East Belfast

    I must say I found this bit particularly pathetic

    “Mrs Kelly says the funds violate the Northern Ireland Act, which bans public authorities from discriminating “against a person or class of person on the ground of religious belief”.

    Has Mrs Kelly missed that fact that NI is a deepely segragated place – espcially in working class areas – where you will find 95% + of one religion or another.

    Therefore if you identify a particular neighbourhood with pressing needs then you have to go and find an equivalent across the religiuous divide to keep it balanced ?

    Is that how SDLP are going to act in their Ministery ? – forget the merit of any project or decision just ensure the sectarian head count is ok.

    That she is being tribal is too kind to her – she is just a numpty who cant understand the issues.

  • Ondine

    Just a question – it is just one troll making that single transferable comment about SF being “treasonous” under a variety of assumed names, right?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    JEB: “Has Mrs Kelly missed that fact that NI is a deepely segragated place – espcially in working class areas – where you will find 95% + of one religion or another. ”

    And what good would come of the government adding to the problem?

    JEB: “Therefore if you identify a particular neighbourhood with pressing needs then you have to go and find an equivalent across the religiuous divide to keep it balanced ? ”

    First of all, I would dispute that money is the problem, but that is a discussion for another thread. Secondly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a need-based system. Simply establish the criteria and administer it fairly, such that, should you be called upon it, you can prove clean hands.

    That said, thiswould appear to be a case of “No Catholic area need apply,” without addressing the basis of need, so, as far as being a non-discriminatory program, does not pass the “smirk test.”

    JEB: “forget the merit of any project or decision just ensure the sectarian head count is ok.”

    It would appear that you have that precisely bass ackwards — the Minister is proposing pulling the plug on programs that discriminate on the basis of religion, rather than allocate on the basis of need.

    JEB: “That she is being tribal is too kind to her – she is just a numpty who cant understand the issues.”

    And how long have these areas languished, yea verily, even under Unionist rule? To cry foul now is amusing, given how long Unionists have left these areas to rot under the thumbs of the various Loyalist gangs…

  • merrie

    > restrict funding to Protestant areas exclusively

    >if you identify a particular neighbourhood with pressing needs then you have to go and find an equivalent across the religiuous divide to keep it balanced

    Now this is ridiculous and perpetuates the problem.

    There should be NO state funding based on Protestant and Catholic – rather funding should be based on the needs of communities. If an area needs a library, build it. If another area needs a library then build one there too.

    A poor person in Ballymurphy is as poor as someone on Sandy Row. To call one a Catholic poor person and the other a Protestant poor person is unnecessary.

    Sadly, such stupid differentiations are what makes NI unique. Why not become more like the rest of the UK (if not most of the English-speaking world) where such hair splitting does not exist.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Observer:

    dREAD The fact is that Loyalists ,unlike catholics, continue to repudiate the likes of the UDA at the ballot box

    There are two points here :

    – the first one being that unionist politicians have had zero to say on the subject of providing blackmail money to the UDA in exchange for it agreeing not to shoot anyone. That isn’t consistent with repudiating the UDA;

    – Paramilitarism can’t be sustained without at least passive, if not active, support. The UDA exist and run the neighbourhoods, and many people in those areas and beyond provide passive support, by using them as a supplier of counterfeit goods, dodgy gas meters or cable TV/satellite hacks, or drugs. You can see them at “community work”, whether it’s at Garnerville, or at Carnmoney cemetery. People are voting DUP/UUP and supporting UDA/UVF at the same time. That makes the point about not voting for the UDA/UVF at the ballot box a straw man.

    If unionists truly opposed these people, then, as Dread says, they’d have no problem calling upon their supporters to hand these people into the police. I can think of plenty of occasions when DUP/UUP politicians have used parliamentary privilege to name republicans or people suspected of republican activity. I do not agree with such methods either way, but to compare like with like, can you think of a time when those same politicians have used those privileges to finger loyalists ? In fact any time I hear about the DUP/UUP mentioning loyalists in parliament, it’s either to complain about their jail conditions, or complain about their treatment by the ARA or the police.

    This tired old “unionists are decent and have nothing to do with thugs” line needs to stop. It’s plainly bullshit and you know it. You should be concentrating on addressing the reasons why the UDA/UVF continue to exist. Start by listening to what the PSNI Chief Constable, the IMC and the Assets Recovery Agency are saying.

  • Greenflag

    Reader ,

    ‘O’Neill was an upper class unionist talking to middle class unionists.’

    That he was . Had his accent not been so upper plummy English they might have listened to him . They did’nt . Neither did they listen to Chichester Clark not Brian Faulkner , nor David Trimble and some now appear to be having trouble listening to the ‘new’ Paisley. I understand that a tendency to deafness can be hereditary but I did’nt think it actually crossed the sectarian lines as it appears to have in the case of this latest SDLP foot in mouth trip! Political desperation no doubt . I’m surprised that the UUP has not leapt to the ramparts to support this latest SDLP ‘initiative’?

    ‘ Of course he sounded condescending.’

    Aye indeed -one of the benefits of a public school education . Normally harmless enough but regrettably not in NI conditions as they were circa 1967/69 etc.

    ‘But if he had carried his audience, there might have been no troubles.’

    There WOULD have been no troubles IMO.

    ‘ Because, as well as being condescending, he was correct.’

    No point in being ‘correct’ if you can’t get your electorate to follow ? This is the essence of the predicament in which both the SDLP and UUP now find themselves . The older , fat and lazy middle classes have failed in NI politics and are being replaced by the newer rising lower ‘middle ‘ classes .

    So what else is new ?

  • Greenflag

    Merrie ,

    ‘Sadly, such stupid differentiations are what makes NI unique. Why not become more like the rest of the UK (if not most of the English-speaking world) where such hair splitting does not exist.’

    Sounds intelligent even desirable unfortunately one of the more unique aspects of NI society is that if you ignore such ‘hair splitting’ the consequence is usually an increase in head splitting 🙁 It would appear that both communities are desirous of not increasing the latter at the expense of the former .

  • merrie

    Greenflag:

    It has to stop at some point. So where do we start?

    Ideally, all communities should be mixed (SF had a huge win in West Belfast, but it also indicates what a Catholic ghetto it is). With a mixed community wanting a new library everyone shares it without wondering if “themmums” have got something better.

    But, at present, if we mix the communities there is house burning and, as you said, head splitting.

    Non-sectarian government funding seems to me to be the easiest beginning of the end of NI’s sad uniqueness.

  • John East Belfast

    merrie

    I think you are missing the point.

    As I said above in the deprived working class areas we have 95% segregation which means any Govt funded project is going to end up with “one side or the other”.

    However the issue is so what – if the project warrants it the fine – I am sure similar projects in nationalist areas will be identified in due course.

    However the ludicrous thing for the sdlp to say this is disrcimination.

    The govt are not responsible for where people choose to live all it is trying to do is address areas of most need.

    Dread

    “And how long have these areas languished, yea verily, even under Unionist rule? To cry foul now is amusing, given how long Unionists have left these areas to rot under the thumbs of the various Loyalist gangs…”

    what a ridiculous half baked point to make ?

  • Chris Donnelly

    JEB

    You seem to be missing the point entirely regarding the SDLP’s position (and, for that matter, Sinn Fein’s stance.)

    This isn’t a matter of addressing “areas of most need.” (your words)

    If it were about addressing areas of “most need” then the government would be using the deprivation indicators to identify those areas and acting accordingly. The NOBLE index of deprivation provides a very clear picture of the wards/ Super Output Areas which are most requiring of funding initiatives to address deprivation on a range of fronts.

    The problem for many unionist politicians has been that these objective indicators repeatedly confirm that nationalist areas form the majority of the most deprived areas across the north.

    What the Renewing Communities/ CCDC money has been about is seeking ways to usurp the objective deprivation indicators and instead provide funding in a disproportionate manner (disproportionate from the deprivation indicators) for loyalist areas at the behest of unionist politicians, who have been targeting this line of attack for years.

    To say, then, that “similar projects in nationalist areas will be identified in due course” is to miss the point of the funding on offer under these schemes- i.e. they aren’t looking to fund nationalist areas through these funds, and there isn’t an equivalent ‘exclusively’ nationalist funding scheme in operation.

    And, let’s be clear, nor should there be. Tackling deprivation should be about addressing areas of need in an objective manner, whether they be in the Shankill, Falls or Sandy Row.

  • John East Belfast

    chris

    you make fair points.

    What I am reacting against is this is catholic discrimination.

    Firstly we have to recognise NI segregation which if taken to its extreme could render every project spend as discriminatory against one side or other.

    Also there is a mountain of difference between targetting Protestant areas of deprivation and discriminating against cathlic areas.

    I will have to check out your Noble Index sometime but all I know is the Protestant working class, for many reasons, has different needs than the Catholic one in areas of educational achievement and cultural identity.

    Anything that helps the Protestant WC raise its educational standard and move it away from grotesque paramilitary murals and ‘kick the pope bands’ is to be welcomed.

    If anthing the SDLP should be coming at this from the point of view of all such spend is to be welcomed but we have needs in our community too – rather than raising issues like discrimination and emotive phrases like “no catholics need apply”

  • brutus

    Ondine,

    [i]Just a question – it is just one troll making that single transferable comment about SF being “treasonous” under a variety of assumed names, right?[/i]

    He/she/it/they have taken to using American spelling recently: patronize, organizations, honorable.

  • Sean

    JEB its you who misses the point!

    By targetting one community you by definition ignore the other and therefore discriminate against the untargetted community

  • Dread Cthulhu

    JEB: “what a ridiculous half baked point to make ? ”

    If this is your best riposte, I’d say that you’re the one who could do with an hour or three more in the oven, JEB.

    I just find it amusing that Unionists have left these areas to rot, but only when Catholics move to eliminate funding allocated on a discriminatory basis (i.e. no Catholic areas need apply) that Unionism suddenly decides that these areas are in dire need of help.

    JEB: “Firstly we have to recognise NI segregation which if taken to its extreme could render every project spend as discriminatory against one side or other. ”

    “Acknowledging” is far different from enabling, which is what the program currently does…

  • wjeilis

    According To Calton Radio (and many of you spoke of the PUL tonight), here’s a piece of fresh news.

    Apparently, McKenna/MacCionnaith in Portadown has left the Shinners. Depending on your viewpoint, he is either a sectarian bigot, or else he was as once described by a close colleague of Adams in a Sunday newspaper at the height of Drumcree, when it was doing the rounds that McKenna/MacCionnaith had joined the dissidents in 1998 (McKevitt and co), he was described then as “one of the most loyal of the activist base to Adams/McGuinness”.

    Adams and Co might have now a problem if it proves to be true that McKenna/MacCionnaith has resigned from SF/IRA.

    Through Garvaghy Road, he and others built a support base inside and outside SF across the country which will be hard for Adams and co to deny. More importantly, McKenna/MacCionnaith knows what the SF/Republican/ Nationalist vote will not settle for.

    Interesting times ahead this July as McKenna/MacCionnaith and his friends in Portadown have the potential to de-rail the entire process if Paisley falls into the dissident trap – or McGuinness is sent into Garvaghy Road, like the other Deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon, who was literally chased out of the area. Unless
    McKenna/MacCionnaith and his mates agrees to a march, McGuiness is likely to meet the same fate as Mallon!!

  • Sean

    you people must lay in bed and have wet dreams about how this is all going to fall down around Adams’s ears, to bad for all the negative projections you have never been correct yet and the prognosis is not good for the future

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Can’t bear the thought of having a Catholic about the place, can you, wjellis?

  • Good God Merrie,

    In one fell swoop, you are guilty of the kind of blatant sectarianism that you claim to abhor –

    “SF had a huge win in West Belfast, but it also indicates what a Catholic ghetto it is”).

    Thats comment is about as sectarian as its gets Merrie. Think about it….

  • Greenflag

    Merrie,

    ‘It has to stop at some point.’

    In theory yes . In practice define at some point ?

    ‘ So where do we start? ‘

    Normally I’d say the best place to start is at the beginning but in the case of NI there is no agreement on where the ‘beginning ‘ begins . And even less agreement on where/when the end will end . So perhaps by starting in the middle (if we can agree on the middle ) and work backwards we’ll eventually reach the beginning of each end or the end of each beginning . By that time hopefully people will have forgotten which end they began at or which which beginning they ended at :)?

    And on that note I leave you wiser than I leave myself 🙂

  • merrie

    > In one fell swoop, you are guilty of the kind of blatant sectarianism that you claim to abhor

    Macswiney: Rubbish. It does not indicate blatant sectarianism. The reason why there are so many SF supporters in West Belfast is because they were forced there, just as others were forced into living along the Garvaghy Road. Before these troubles began the people of Garvaghy Road lived all over Portadown, ie in a mixed community.

  • John East Belfast

    sean

    “By targetting one community you by definition ignore the other and therefore discriminate against the untargetted community ”

    That is not how I see discrimination.

    To me the latter involves 1 job, one pot of money, one house etc and with two choices someone makes a conscious decision, with malice aforethought, to award it to one based on their own prejudices against the other.

    ie this is not Discrimination as we know it and the SDLP are involved in cheap point scoring by introducing such language

  • Sean

    If you say “you are in need here is the hand up you require!” then that is not descrimination

    but if you say “you are in need and require a hand up, but we are giving it to the other bloke because we like his politics better than yours” then that is very much descrimination

  • Free Agent

    Themmuns get everything, so they do.