Segregation, costs and equality

During a debate about the Shared Future strategy, the UUP challenged the Alliance party on the potential £1bn savings from tackling segregation. They demanded to know specifically what Alliance proposes to cut or close. Paisley Snr also moved to deal with the fallout from SF’s defeated equality motion and the Hot Press interview.David Burnside and Basil McCrea both wanted Alliance to get down to specifics and name what they would close. McCrea claimed that some 70% of the £1bn are actually labour costs, much of which would still be incurred in a shared facility. Alliance’s Naomi Long accepted that:

“I do not suggest that that is a simple calculation and that the money can be extracted in the blink of an eye.”

However, this is not how Kieran McCarthy presented the situation over free personal care for the elderly:

“If the Executive worked to end segregation now, we could provide free care very quickly instead of waiting for years, like the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey wants us to.”

Nor Stephen Farry in the debate:

“The Alliance Party, in its election manifesto, stated that £1 billion was being wasted annually in managing Northern Ireland’s divided society, which does not allow us to invest in the quality changes in public services that the people of this country demand. If the will is there, the money is available to address the inefficient way in which services are delivered and to find a new way forward.”

The Politics show focused on the costs of segregation on Sunday. It appears an upcoming report will confirm the headline figure of £1 billion but will add the caveat that the costs of establishing new shared facilities will reduce the savings.

Meanwhile, First Minister Ian Paisley Snr, outlined a strong commitment on equality:

I shall preface those responses by saying that the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) is totally committed to promoting equality and human rights. The First Minister and the Deputy First Minister are completely opposed to any form of discrimination or harassment against any citizen, and so are all in their Office and under them.

  • joeCanuck

    Poor baby, needing Daddy to bail you out.
    Poor Daddy, having a grown baby who embarrasses you.

  • Sean Og

    The Alliance Party rhetoric around the cost of segregation has been exposed and fair play to Brunside & McCrea for doing it.

    The costs Alliance talk about relate to schools and teachers salaries but ask them which schools they would close and how many teachers they want to sack and they run and hide. McCarthy’s populist approach to economics is pathetic and childish. They really need to grow up.

  • Analyst

    Beware of cost savings being thrown around.

    An executive boasted tha the Time-Warner AOL takeover could save $1 billion a yaer.

    $700 million were identified and the rest came from only allowing staff 2 pizzas a week when working over time and 9 taxi paid for taxi trips home when working late rather than 14.

    Suficit to say more money would have been saved if the takeover had not gone through.

  • DC

    The fact that the raison d’etre is predicated on the use of economics in order to try and influence a drive towards changing social provision just goes to show how the whole Shared Future debate has been turned into one of a ‘cost-saving’ exercise; rather than focusing on the plight of citizen’s who suffer directly at the hands of poor social behaviour and addressing it at that point, the easy option is to integrate on a rationalisation process.

    Ultimately, it seems Alliance are saying that they want re-prioritise spending by cutting £1billion in certain facilities and services and taking that expenditure elsewhere to other facilities and services to the likes of hospitals (if they aren’t affected), infrastructure and mixed-housing.

    The Assembly raises valid concerns such as why wait for lucratively paid consultants to offer up the £1 billion savings, as the proof probably should have by now been in an already baked Alliance policy but the consultant’s report goes to show it wasn’t all ‘motherhood and apple pie’ policy.

  • jaffa

    Alliance’s timidity is sweetening the cost-saving drive by linking it to sharing. The bottom line is that we have a civil servant for every 7.5 people in NI whereas the republic and the south of england have 1 for every 12.

    We could start by identifying those of our public employees who really shouldn’t be there, only took the job for the pension and the lack of alternatives in our stagnant economy, and who’s own lack of productivity draws down on the productivity of their colleagues.

    That and shut the LRA and Equality Commission for a year!

  • That is now twice in the space of a week that Alliance stand accused of gross political naivety in terms of it’s economic proposals. Somewhat galling, bearing in mind that Alliance have have taken a very aloof position in terms of it’s own perceived abilities.

    Perhaps the debacle of the past week has revaeled just why their mandate has greatly diminised over the past few years. They are just a small party, and on current evidence, not a very good one either…

  • DC

    There is also the issue of uptake of benefits and not least the ‘Jimmy-couldn’t-fix-it-for-you’ Saville enquiry.

  • jaffa

    That is now twice in the space of a week that Alliance stand accused of gross political naivety in terms of it’s economic proposals.

    A Shinner said this?

    Somewhat galling, bearing in mind that Alliance have have taken a very aloof position in terms of it’s own perceived abilities.

    A Shinner said this??

    Perhaps the debacle of the past week has revaeled just why their mandate has greatly diminised over the past few years. They are just a small party, and on current evidence, not a very good one either…

    ??????!!!!!

    No sense of irony these revolutionaries.

  • DC

    “David Burnside and Basil McCrea both wanted Alliance to get down to specifics and name what they would close”

    My retort would have been their mouths – if at all possible.

  • Jaffa,

    Make up your mind now. If you are going to score points by arguing from an All-Ireland basis, then you had better be sure you’re approach is consisitent on other threads. Kind of doubt it though…

  • jaffa

    Score points? I just say what I think.

    Regarding inconsistency, if I’ve ever said anything remotely pro-SF on any thread I humbly apologise.

    Boring old all-Island liberal democracy with a touch of greenery would suit me thanks.

  • IJP

    I’m sure Basil will be looking forward to the OFMDFM report on this subject, which shows the only thing the Alliance Party was timid about was the scale of the money concerned…

    (I’d have three top-quality leisure centres in Belfast and close 11 dilapidated ones for a start.)

  • steve48

    At last someone from the Alliance party actually commits to action rather than rhetoric.
    So IJP
    which centres would you close?
    where would you build the three new ones?
    What is the cost of a top-quality leisure centre these days?
    How many jobs would go and what would that save?
    What alternative employment would be available for staff

  • IJP

    Kieran McCarthy was correct.

    The £1 billion comes from Alliance’s “invest to save” policy, which may require additional initial investment from the Exchequer in return for guaranteed lower subvention down the line as the costs from ending segregated services are recouped. The distinction is that other parties just say “Give us more money”, whereas Alliance says “Invest more money and save funds in the longer term” – a much more likely avenue for freeing up any extra London cash.

    However, it would be a relatively simple task to cut £40 million from the costs simply by government action – enough for free personal care.

  • Alliance Voter

    IJP

    I’m impressed you came on this thread

    What is Naomi Long’s position on reducing underused and duppicated provision by the BELB (of which she is a member)

  • DC

    I see from the report Sinn Fein was trying to apply its usual revisionist political ploys – Martina Anderson stated:

    “I wish to separate the objective of building a shared future – which is a top priority – from the ‘A Shared Future’ document and its plan.”

    Why would you want to do that unless politicking on the matter? The motion is about “A Shared Future” policy implementation.

    Is the intent in “separating” sharing ideas a further attempt to ride on the back of the “A Shared Future” profile to distort the fact that Sinn Fein are seeking credibility from the integrity of such a policy document yet managing to maintain a separate idea of what is A Shared Future.

    Martina alludes further:

    “Sinn Fein also shares particular problems…for example, in parts of Belfast the notion of the shared future that we are being asked to endorse is being used as a rationale to limit the building of social housing in the name of created neutral space around all the major routes into the city.”

    She continues: “Such a view of development in the name of neutrality and a shared future is what non of us in the Chamber should support”

    Okay Martina – you know that do you – if so, where is your proof firstly, besides all houses are built using a “neutrality” design, until someone decides to tarnish such normalcy with communal symbols and paintings.

    The argument is itself quite sectarian as I know which option most people would choose – unsymbolised housing or housing bedecked in bunting and cultural/ psuedo-paramilitary markings.

  • DC

    I’d have three top-quality leisure centres in Belfast and close 11 dilapidated ones for a start.

    They wouldn’t be:

    1) Fitness First
    2) Esporta
    3) LA Fitness

    Quite dear but yea good quality.

  • Chris Donnelly

    DC

    Martina is correctly flagging up the cynical manner in which some are using the ‘Shared Future/’ CRC platform to oppose the building of houses in parts of inner north Belfast.

    Watch this space ‘DC…’

  • DC

    Okay but substantiate that please, who are ‘some’ and under what circumstances?

    I really don’t believe that statement that the current reluctance to build new houses on land is related to A Shared Future policy but you may have a valid point.

    Although it seems very foolish given both the social benefits and financial rewards that come from reinvigorating areas through raising new housing stock. The reality is that social housing would be built anywhere if demand dictates it and if it is financially possible.

    But, as you have been vague on the nature of the circumstance, I would like to hazard a guess that the situation which you raise is likely to do with security concerns restricting the opportunity of builders to come into the area and build safely. It has been known that as soon as any construction workers are spotted getting work underway the boys come out and intimidate Housing Executive contractors or other such privateers away. The reason being – communal territorial disputes, surely more reason for the creation of shared space.

    I hardly feel blaming A Shared Future policy for that is fair and nor does it make sense for Martina to attribute it to that particular situation, unless she has proof to the contrary. That said it was still a tasteless remark deviating away from the motion and was more akin to the sectarian tactics used by the DUP.

  • Jamie

    “Martina is correctly flagging up the cynical manner in which some are using the ‘Shared Future/’ CRC platform to oppose the building of houses in parts of inner north Belfast.”

    hmm, highly dubious about that one having listened to that particular lady trying valiantly to sustain an argument while confusing herself.

    One of the things about housing in North Belfast that sticks out like a sore thumb when you live there are the rows of empty dwellings along the protestant side of the peaceline that people were terrorised out of. The same in true in East Belfast although Cluan Place has regenerated itself and now is mostly inhabited again. These are the same houses that supporters of Ms Andersons party are agitating to knock down and rebuild after having spent the last 5 years throwing petrol bombs – theres a term for this behaviour, mostly associated with 1940s Germany..

  • Chris Donnelly

    Jamie
    One of the things about housing in North Belfast that sticks out like a sore thumb when you live there are the rows of empty dwellings along the protestant side of the peaceline that people were terrorised out of.

    Ahh, nothing to do with upwardly mobile people choosing to up and move to the suburbs, Jamie? By your logic, the catholic districts of North Belfast would be completely derelict given all that nationalists have had to endure in the past 30 years.

    DC
    But, as you have been vague on the nature of the circumstance, I would like to hazard a guess that the situation which you raise is likely to do with security concerns restricting the opportunity of builders to come into the area and build safely. It has been known that as soon as any construction workers are spotted getting work underway the boys come out and intimidate Housing Executive contractors or other such privateers away.

    This may or may not be the practice in loyalist areas, but I bet if you actually bothered to speak with builders in nationalist areas then you’d realise how foolish your comment is, DC.

  • Jamie

    “Ahh, nothing to do with upwardly mobile people choosing to up and move to the suburbs, Jamie?”

    Ah balls Chris, do you even convince yourself. All these upwardly mobile people you talk of, did they not live in social housing? Why did no one replace them? Why did no one ever come in after to buy the private housing like they would in any other part of the country? Come on, think about it past ur shinner propaganda, breath the free air

  • DC

    “This may or may not be the practice in loyalist areas, but I bet if you actually bothered to speak with builders in nationalist areas then you’d realise how foolish your comment is, DC.”

    Chris you speak just like Gerry Adams but hey thanks for that, though shame you didn’t add the word ‘son’ at the end of it, as that would have been the cherry on top.

  • observer

    Somewhat outside the main issue being dealt with here (Alliance’s fictional £1bn), but did anyone else notice the language used by the First Minister?

    “We in this Assembly can be the persons who can lead this community. No matter what the press, the BBC and the journalists say, we can lead the community to do this part of this island proud. I look forward to that.”

    “This part of this island” … it could be that I am reading far too much into this, but this strikes me as, well, at least a change of tone.

    It’s nearly as interesting as the Big Man’s reference to Martin Luther King. This might go a long way to explaining the political judgements he has made in recent times:

    “Like another King, I have had a dream. I have had a dream in which children can play together, in which people can work together, and in which families can live happily side by side, regardless of their community or ethnic background or their religious beliefs.”

    He wants to be remembered not as a Strom Thurmond but as a Martin Luther King – a perhaps unexpected, but welcome decision.

  • páid

    We’ve dealt with this before on Slugger, I forget the threads, observer.

    Although pointing up the fact that Paisley’s language has changed, may in fact reverse the change – a kind of political Heisenberg principle.

    Listen to his old speeches. It’s all about the Protestants not being driven out of Ireland.

    Paisley is an Irishman and he knows it.

  • willowfield

    It is quite true that money is wasted on segregation – schools being the most obvious expense. Alliance are correct.

    Challenging them to name specific schools to close is a mere tactic to avoid the bigger issue by those who prefer segregation to integration.