CSI: plot thickens, but where does it go from here..?

A FEW hours after I blogged about the absence of progress by our leading parties on an agreed community relations strategy, the DUP published the working draft of the seemingly aborted OFMDFM policy. I’ll have a proper read of it later, and in the meantime, maybe commenters can compare and contrast it with Sinn Fein’s unilaterally-published strategy. For his part, Conall argues that Sinn Fein – who “say you must have equality before you can have good relations” – need to “to recognize that equality can only be truly achieved when there are good relations”.

All this raises a few questions. Is Sinn Fein putting the cart before the horse? Are there real inequalities that must be tackled before dealing with a shared future? What are they? Should there be be a ‘twin-track’ approach? Does equal mean separate, rather than genuinely integrated? Is the limit of our ambition to live safely on one side of a wall? Is that really desirable? Do political parties have a vested interest in preventing more integration?

Now everything is finally out in the open, surely some common ground can be found by the bickering parties. A head of steam has been building up over this debate; let’s keep it going, as it would be a shame if it were to dissipate into the ether once again.

  • rula law

    So the SDLP now believe that equality must be built on good relations. Interesting… whatever happened to objective need.. or civil rights but only after we get good relations? And according to the SDLP, the entire rest of the world agrees!

    There’s one problem with that. Whatever about the policy proposals of the Shinners, their CSI approach seems to be based on the rule of law as approved by the Assembly (in mandating the Programme for Government) and Westminster (in mandating Section 75). Facts speak for themselves – Sinn Fein’s spelling is woeful, but their viewpoint is lawfully mandated.

    From the SF doc:

    “In the Programme for Government 2008-11, the Executive
    agreed to drive a programme across government to reduce
    poverty and address inequality and disadvantage in order to
    make peoples’ lives better (PSA 7).

    The specific commitment of objective 5 under PSA 7 is to
    promote equality and the enforcement of rights, including – as
    part of that – the commitment to implement a programme of
    cohesion and integration for a shared and better future for all.

    Section 75 of the NI Act 1998 also imposes statutory
    obligations on OFMDFM in relation to the discharge of all
    Departmental functions:
    (1) A public authority shall in carrying out its functions relating
    to Northern Ireland have due regard to the need to promote
    equality of opportunity:
    (a) between persons of different religious belief, political
    opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;
    (b) between men and women generally;
    (c) between persons with a disability and persons without; and
    (d) between persons with dependants and persons without.
    (2) Without prejudice to its obligations under subsection (1), a
    public authority shall in carrying out its functions relating to
    Northern Ireland have regard to the desirability of promoting
    good relations between persons of different religious belief,
    political opinion or racial group.

    The First and deputy First Minister have recently affirmed that
    (AQW 1675/09 Written Answer):
    “Section 75(1) of the NI Act 1998 imposes a general statutory duty on all public authorities (as defined under section 75(3)). This duty requires a public authority to have due regard for the need to promote equality of opportunity in the discharge of all its functions. The Executive has previously stated its commitment to observing this statutory duty. Further detailed enforcement duties also arise under Schedule 9 of the Act, which is given effect by Section 75(4). Various remedies are available to any citizen or group asserting any failure to comply with either the general statutory duty in Section 75(1) or the detailed enforcement duties in Schedule 9.

    The Section 75(2) general statutory duty to have regard for
    the desirability of good relations is specifically “without
    prejudice” to the Section 75(1) general statutory duty to have
    due regard for the need to promote equality of opportunity.
    Compliance with Section 75 (2) must therefore be specifically
    non-prejudicial to primary compliance with Section 75(1).”

  • Chris Donnelly

    Gonzo

    Conall is simply wrong. Equality must underpin relationships, else all will be built on quicksand.

    Equal need not mean separate, and in fact part of the CSI must be to ensure that is not the case.

    But let’s not kid ourselves that this is an argument between those who want some form of apartheid (Sinn Fein in some people’s narrative) and those wanting unity (unionism.)

    ‘Separate but equal’ is not an ideal proposition, but it is preferable to ‘together but unequal.’

    I can recall looking at the proposed Good Relations strategy for a majority unionist council in the last year. It included all sorts of proposals, but when it came to key aspects- including introducing statutory power-sharing/ proportionality mechanisms for the allocation of civic posts- there was nothing beyond an aspiration that this happen some time in the future.

    Furthermore, issues such as the flying of the Union flag from civic premises remained untouched.

    All of which sounds like avoiding the key, substantive issues which have given rise to conflict and division- those arguing otherwise need just to reflect for a moment on how the appearance of an Irish National flag in a nationalist part of a predominantly unionist town some months ago led to a sectarian murder.

    The Sinn Fein document proposes to deal with these issues.

    By all means let’s work on a ‘twin track’ approach which accepts the importance of building a better shared future, but attempting to skirt over key issues simply won’t wash.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Further to Conall’s dreadful post, he is deliberately misrepresenting Sinn Fein’s position.

    Regarding North Belfast, I’d like to hear the views of local SDLP reps and see if they tally with Conall’s opinions.

    The facts are much simpler: the DUP scream from the rooftops every time a proposal is made to address the chronic housing crisis in nationalist parts of north Belfast.

    Regarding defining what Sinn Fein mean by equality, it does not mean catholic swimming pools and protestant swimming pools. Rather, it means that objective criteria should be used to assess matters like funding programmes, where in the past dubious reasons have been forwarded to promote discriminatory funding initiatives- like the infamous Renewing Communities (PUL) programmes, set up after the Orange Order/ Loyalist Whiterock riots.

    Part of the funding programmes included schools receiving additional money- State and Integrated- simply for having some protestant pupils in their classes.

  • kensei

    This is dancing on the head of a pin. What exactly are people proposing, rather than just using colourful terms for? That’s the nub and the rest is fluff.

  • Scaramoosh

    The day that an Ulster flag can happily fly over a memorial to a dead hunger striker, we will all have been set free (sic)…

  • rula law

    Kensei, the nub of the issue is that SF’s policy is line with public law and public policy. Its not republican-speak – read it yourself.

    Its clear that the DUP couldn’t hack that because they would have to promote equality for gays – or worse Travellers; alongside good relations with Fenians! There be dragons!

    The money’s there. It should be spent. But it has to tackle objective needs – not building hotel saunas like the IFI did, or funding hugging sessions like the CRC has done, or socially engineering longer Catholic housing lists on the basis of a flawed ‘Shared Future’ policy like Margaret Ritchie is currently doing in North Belfast.

    Geddit?

  • Driftwood

    The DUP can’t even get its own act together..

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8263295.stm

    What a joke!

  • fin

    having seen lots of Ulster flags at republican memorials I’m sure they are flying over a hungerstrikers memorial already.

    Did you mean a Stormont flag as opposed to the red hand flag? the Stormont flag representing 50% of 66% of Ulster which is equal to 33% of Ulster is hardly representative of the province, makes you sic, don’t it

  • Rula law

    What I wrote was that you cannot achieve equality without good relations unless of course your objective is to be equal but seperate.

  • Ok so maybe those who have such issue with what I have written can find another nationalist party on this island that agrees with SF on this issue. Or is this another Lisbon Treaty situation where SF is right and eveyone else is wrong?

  • rula law

    So then Conall, can we take it you agree that SF accurately relied upon existing policy and law (mandated on a cross-party basis in the Assembly and Westminster) in formulating their subsequent proposals – as quoted above?

    Because you see that’s the starting point for this debate. And if you agree that SF’s approach is strictly line with the existing policy and law, then you have to explain how a different approach could possibly comply with the PFG and Section 75.

    If you go down that road then you’d be putting yourself in the camp of the DUP and Margaret Ritchie who both argue – from different standpoints – that equality and objective need can wait on other things. In the DUP’s case, its “till Hell freezes over”; in Ritchie’s case, its just “till Catholics in North Belfast are the only ones left on the housing waiting list”.

  • igor

    Chris

    But a factor in the North Belfast Housing Crisis is that there is little land to build on without displacing what the Protestants see as their areas…that in turn is because of the sectarian ghettoisation of housing. But try to address it and you come up with conflict between two sets of rights

    And yes there has been inequality in funding for years. Generally its been in favour of Nationalist areas which needed ‘community development’ to suck people away from violence while Loyalist areas were left to fester (often by their own people and politician’ lack of vision).

    I am delighted to see SFs commitment to equality now. So why has the SF minister not abolished the rampant discrimination against Protestant Teachers in the Catholic sector? It and policing are the only areas in NI where it’s legal to discriminate in employment on the basis of religion. Has she acted positively? Has she legislation on the stocks to fix this? Has she been lambasting the Bishops for their narrow-mindedness?

    And you suggest that mandatory power-sharing should be part of this ‘equality’ agenda. Why? Surely that only applies if you accept that politics here are inherently and irredeemably sectarian? I know that is part of SFs agenda but there is no reason why a Catholic should not join the UUP for example and hold a post or a Protestant join SF? There are examples.

    But what you suggest seems to go beyond that. You want mandatory power sharing. We didn’t vote for that in the settlement. It wasn’t on the table. Arguably it would also negate democracy – we have a system where we elect people to hold office.

  • DC

    Chris,

    The Coleraine death proves the flaws in separate but equal. You may call them unionist death squads but the reality is that they eat their own too. It’s intolerance that’s the problem. It isn’t just Protestant vs Catholic, it drops down into the micro life of whatever community you are from.

    Coming from a unionist area I know only too well of what it’s like of having to ‘adapt’ either in bars or in certain circles where you have the unfortunate situation where these right wingers happen to be in your company as well. That is to say that you can’t just go up and approach any odd chick at the bar because you have to be mindful that some loyalist / UDA guy has got his eye on her.

    So it’s not about equality it’s about control, it is about a lack of education and maintaining control through fear to make up for shortcomings in communication skills, which usually allow for a more gracious nuanced way to approach and attract people. Some submissive people like this violent style, they think it’s a turn on, but largely and thankfully most don’t.

    The murder in Coleraine was proof of the flaws in separate but equal, and it wasn’t an equality thing – as equality was in place. Unionist flags were up and so were nationalist flags – look what happened, terrible. I think it is an intolerance issue and the easy notion of might is right of bullying paramilitaries. It is the paramilitary wingnuts who have those shortcomings in what we hold as a civilised life, maybe it is too much brawn and not enough brain but still they use the brawn to make up for the brainlessness side of things.

    The more violence is used the more control is reinforced and the more status through fear these groups get.

    Nevertheless, the problem which all communities suffer from is this ‘control’ aspect, well those who are unfortunate enough to suffer it. It is right wing intolerance and it affects us all, we all have to adapt in situations where we know violence is going to be used because of jealousy, intolerance and aggressiveness – usually all part and parcel of para-militarism. Something which SF used to use to their political benefit.

    I hardly see how by your stance that is wishing to have separate but equal, which is nothing other than a repetition of the worst styles of aggressive in your face unionism, can achieve a genuine shared future.

    Equality is a cop out word disguising the flawed styles and approaches that belong across unionism and nationalism.

  • DR

    How many people have read/attempted to read both documents? im not great at making scense of civil servant speak on a friday evening, but I have sorta got the impression the SF document is just a clumsy hatchet job on the DUP/unapproved OFMDFM document throwing in the idea of rights as much as possible and put a bit more republican slant on it, to be perfectly blunt it appears to have been thrown together at the last minute and to have been written by some work experience student, which makes you wonder are they taking the issue seriously at all? The DUP version on the other hand seems quite forward thinking for them, and must has the impression it has gone through several stages to give it some balance, still a bit waffly though, still ahve no idea what it really means!

  • kensei

    DC

    The murder in Coleraine was proof of the flaws in separate but equal, and it wasn’t an equality thing – as equality was in place. Unionist flags were up and so were nationalist flags – look what happened, terrible.

    Now I may be wrong here, but IRC wasn’t the problem taht loyalists couldn’t respect Nationalist flags and made it an issue? In which case that is a shambles of an argument.

    I don’t believe in flying flags on public property. But if people want to do it form their own houses, which would have a similar affect, its none of your or my business.

  • Chris
    I do agree with Ritchie and you are not reflecting her postion accurately at all. But then so do all the other nationalist parties on this island and the Irish and American governments.
    The issue is not whether we support exisitng legislation because we all do. The question is whether we have the courage to look beyond our selfish community interests to develop a policy which can create the conditions for true equality to be achieved.
    Otherwise we are accepting defeat to sectarianism and settling for a seperate but equal future.

    Conall

  • Reader

    fin: the Stormont flag representing 50% of 66% of Ulster which is equal to 33% of Ulster is hardly representative of the province, makes you sic, don’t it
    Your maths applies only to grass and rocks. What proportion of the population of Ulster is governed from Stormont?

  • DC

    “Now I may be wrong here, but IRC wasn’t the problem taht loyalists couldn’t respect Nationalist flags and made it an issue? In which case that is a shambles of an argument.”

    No I’m proving that equality was in place and something went wrong.

  • maeglin

    Chris,

    I don’t think the problem is that the DUP are saying “Good relations cannot be built on inequality” is wrong. In fact, it is clearly in the October draft docu as is recognition of the importance of equality and the statutory framework. The problem is that SF are arguing that ideologically equality is the answer to the good relations problem That is clearly not the case since inequality is not the cause of every bad relations issue.

    The October draft tries to set out the fact that the problem is complex and therefore the solutions and actions must be multi-faceted including addressing things like mixing better, young people having the opportunity to learn (at least in some classes!) together, more shared facilities, addressing misperceptions and creating safety where there is mistrust. These are not equality issues!!! Skewing resources towards just equality will not resolve these issues.

  • Reader

    kensei: Now I may be wrong here, but IRC wasn’t the problem taht loyalists couldn’t respect Nationalist flags and made it an issue? In which case that is a shambles of an argument.
    I don’t believe in flying flags on public property. But if people want to do it form their own houses, which would have a similar affect, its none of your or my business.

    On your first point, isn’t there another lack of respect for flags thread going on in Slugger right now? With the battle lines (oops) drawn up in the opposite sense
    And, on your second point – does the term ‘your own house’ apply to Housing Executive property?

  • kensei

    Reader

    And, on your second point – does the term ‘your own house’ apply to Housing Executive property?

    Two minds. On the one hand, landlords may place restrictions on tenants and often do so. At the same time, is the State to do the same? I have an inherent dislike of that

  • Driftwood

    What proportion of the population of Ulster is governed from Stormont?

    Reader-None, though a sizeable proportion is governed from Westminster.

  • rula law

    Conall

    Any chance you want to deal with the question. Is the Shinner position on the law and policy of this issue accurate?

    If it is, then how can you disagree with their broad approach? And if its not, then why didn’t you sort this matter out when you were a SpAd at the heart of government?

    Under the SF approach, what you describe as “selfish community interests” actually translates in North Belfast housing terms to “targeting objective need” – an objective cited in the Belfast Agreement. (Given your oft-declared status as one of the principal negotiators, I’d have thought you supported that concept – obviously not.)

    So there’s a lesson there which middle-class, middle-aged, middle-of-the-road types need to understand: it aint sectarian to demand equality; and it aint sectarian for North Belfast Catholics to demand that Ritchie delivers housing on the basis of equality and need – not a social engineering project that the CRC has failed with for three decades.

    Likewise the DUP need to understand – as they’re clearly finding out from Sinn Fein – that “respect for the rule of law” now means promoting equality for gays, Travellers, Catholics, Republicans, and others. Oooops! Didn’t see that one coming!

    There’s no short-cut to good relations if you can’t firstly even accept peoples fundamental rights.

    And when you get political leadership universally respecting rights and promoting equality in this society, then why wouldn’t that be the foundation for good relations?

    Unless of course, Conall you’re admitting the objective of equality isn’t really worth the candle any more… which seems to be the SDLP’s current policy.

  • Reader

    Driftwood: (Re;’Governed from Stormont’) None, though a sizeable proportion is governed from Westminster.
    Mis-governed? Un-governed? Aha – ‘Administered’?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Conall
    All the nationalist parties agree that social housing in north Belfast shouldn’t be tackled on the basis of objective need?

    News to me- and them, I’d imagine…

    DC
    You’re plainly wrong regarding what occured in Coleraine. As Kensei pointed out, it was the absence of respect for expressions of the Irish nationalist identity in Coleraine which led to the killing. Imagine were a protestant to be beaten to death in Derry on account of loyalist flags flying in the The Fountain estate.

    Of course, the Sinn Fein document includes taking steps to deal head on with such issues.

    Unfortunately, that would require a partner within unionism willing to accept the legitimacy of the Irish nationalist tradition. As the failure to support power-sharing mechanisms at local government level where they hold the majority indicates, political unionism remains opposed to taking the necessary leap.

    Igor
    Three things.

    Firstly, unionist politicians oppose housing even in nationalist areas- like Ardoyne. I posted a thread a couple years ago on unionist attempts to block housing in Ardoyne.

    Secondly, there are many protestant teachers working in ‘catholic’ schools; in fact, if you did your research you might know that there are even a number of nominally catholic schools with sizeable numbers of protestant pupils (including a north Down primary with a majority of its intake being from the protestant background.)

    Thirdly, in relation to this:
    “I know that is part of SFs agenda but there is no reason why a Catholic should not join the UUP for example and hold a post or a Protestant join SF?”

    Sinn Fein have numerous protestant members, including the Coleraine councillor, Billy Leonard, and a number of the party’s Stormont background team. Sorry to burst your bubble…

    rula law

    ‘And when you get political leadership universally respecting rights and promoting equality in this society, then why wouldn’t that be the foundation for good relations?’

    The sound of hammer hitting nail on head….

  • Rula Law

    Just for clarity I have never described myself as a negotiator of the GFA. I am not responsible for what others read.

    You talk about Fundamental Rights and seem to suggest there some such rights are not being upheld in this region. Could you clarify what you mean?

    You are determined to have this debate on your understanding of the law and on your interpretation of equality. This of course is your right but the question I keep asking and no one has answered is why is it that Sinn Fein are alone on this island in seeing good relations in this way?

    I am quite happy to leave you believing SF is doing a good job at negotiating with the DUP. The handing of a veto at St Andrews was a big achievement as was loosing all control of the Programme for Government and the Budget. Obviously the fact that the North – South Ministerial Council meets half as often as it used to is also a result not to mention the fact that SF went on a 150 day sulk last year. But it’s your opinion and you are entitled to it.

    With respect to class and for the sakes of clarity you should know that my own background is not even working class. It was non-working class.

    As for the future I think the objective should be to create a better future for us all. That means finding ways of making power sharing work, moving from confrontation to cooperation and from suspicion to respect. Yes right and equality is central to that but there is also the move beyond conflict mindsets and embrace the opportunity of regional government.

    Conall

  • Chris

    Few quetsions:

    Should objective need be the only consideration when planning future social housing requirments?

    Are there any other policies or principles which should be considered?

    Do you believe objective need delivers equity or equality?

    My point was that SF are alone on this island in opposing a shared future. Or have I missed something?

  • Glencoppagagh

    If promoting equality means bulding houses for people to sit around and do nothing in, it’s simply promoting dependency culture. However, as some nationalist commenters have pointed out on Slugger, that’s how SF buys its votes.
    On the other hand, if there are people whose employment makes Ardoyne or elsewhere a convenient place to live, that’s a different matter altogether. You’d think the property developers would be alert to such demand though.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Conall
    In turn:
    1, Not the only consideration, but certainly at the top.
    2. Naturally there are other considerations which come to play in specific cases.
    3. If we’re talking about the silly toilet example you used on your post, then obviously not.

    But in real life examples, objective need certainly ensures individuals and groupings are not treated in an unequal manner.

    4. Yup, you’ve missed something. Where did everybody ‘on this island’ sign up to a specific vision of a shared future? That’d certainly be a revelation, given that it’s widely agreed that the phrase- kinda like ‘equality’- conjures up all kinds of differing visions.

    Glencoppagagh
    Another depressing generalisation about working-class communities.
    But if it keeps you secure in your worldview…

  • DC

    ‘DC
    You’re plainly wrong regarding what occured in Coleraine. As Kensei pointed out, it was the absence of respect for expressions of the Irish nationalist identity in Coleraine which led to the killing.’

    Still doesn’t disprove the fact that equality was in place in terms of identification and look what happened.

    People did assert themselves equally yet for some reason something fatal happened.

    Is this something you want to see spread out regionally. I’m also minded to draw the Love Ulster comparison in Dublin rather than Derry. As it has more relevance in terms of assertive minorities entering new areas than a once fairly large minority but now a diminishing one in those old settlement areas.

    But, I’ll leave you with this, again:

    Equality is a cop out word disguising the flawed styles and approaches that belong across unionism and nationalism.

    I’m thinking why is it that in other areas people can mix and get on in life, say the more affluent areas in NI, perhaps they have a different more appropriate way of expressing themselves in terms of identity and means of identification??

  • Chris Donnelly

    DC
    “I’m thinking why is it that in other areas people can mix and get on in life, say the more affluent areas in NI, perhaps they have a different more appropriate way of expressing themselves in terms of identity and means of identification?? ”

    http://www.spectatornewspapers.co.uk/news-and-events.asp?id=445

    Oops- you spoke too soon.

    You’re undoubtedly correct that people in more affluent areas express themselves differently. For a start, they take the correct view with regard to the flying of flags from lampposts and painting of kerbs etc.

    But, and I think you’ll probably concede this, such areas remain as deeply divided as the rest of the state, albeit concealing the extent of division behind common decency.

    This is why a genuinely shared future needs to be one in which individuals and communities are treated equally and are challenged to accept the equal legitimacy and validity of the contrasting/ opposing views of their neighbours.

  • barnshee

    Ardoyne.

    Secondly, there are many protestant teachers working in ‘catholic’ schools; in fact, if you did your research you might know that there are even a number of nominally catholic schools with sizeable numbers of protestant pupils (including a north Down primary with a majority of its intake being from the protestant background.)

    This is a straightforward ahem inaccuracy. I know of absolutely NO protestant teachers teaching in RC schools.(the can`t fulfill the criteria of “contributing to the catholic ethos” bit)
    Unfortunately the stupid prods don`t respond in state schools

    Numbers please?

    Numbers please

  • DC

    Well what I’m trying to say is that it is an expression usually part of asserting identity in an atmosphere of conflict; I don’t see why anyone who is in a position of power and influence who has, allegedly, ‘activists’ in tow would want to replicate some of the worst traits of in your face unionism.

    It’s like pulling out your own red rag to a bull and you’re right absolutely vice versa the problem applies to unionism. I’m tempted to say that it is right wingers who put them up and both polital camps have drawn or draw support from such groups and aren’t prepared to, or cant, really tackle them for fear of either upsetting them or violence or both. Particularly after many decades of turning a blind eye to it or once supporting it for political benefit.

  • Driftwood

    Chris Donnelly tells us that SF has a significant number of protestant members. Big Deal. As a non-protestant, can he tell me how they reconcile their evangelical beliefs (‘Born Again’ etc)to the SF/PIRA campaign of terror against such protestants. eg Kingsmills, the murder of Joanne Mathers by a current SF top minister etc.
    Over to you Chris.

  • Reader

    Chris Donnelly: Secondly, there are many protestant teachers working in ‘catholic’ schools; in fact, if you did your research you might know that there are even a number of nominally catholic schools with sizeable numbers of protestant pupils (including a north Down primary with a majority of its intake being from the protestant background.)
    I sent four Prod children to that school. We had our reasons. However, most of the Prod pupils there are refugees from the nearby estate and its associated primary school. Well done to the parents for being able to see the wood in spite of the trees…
    But I don’t think many (or perhaps even any) of the teachers there are Protestant. Though there is a hypothetical route into teaching in the maintained sector,and a sufficiently charismatic protestant could manage it.

  • Driftwood

    Reader
    Chris is anxious to dodge the ‘prods in Sinn Fein’ issue because he knows he cannot back it up. Billy Leonard is no John Gorman and he knows it.
    Ask him why SF abandoned its pro womens choice on abortion in the 80’s and he’ll avoid that as well.
    Chris Donnelly likes avoiding things, he will do well in SF.

  • Jim

    Chris Rula law,

    Of course Unionist politicians are going to oppose any social housing in Catholic areas as that would help Gerry Kelly become the new MP. I think the important issue is that they have failed in this. Over 2000 houses planned or already built in north Belfast since 2001.

    Taking Ardoyne/Bone over 700 houses built or to be built in the last 5-6years. I agree that politics should play no part in housing need but this is North Belfast we are talking about and there are no votes in Ardoyne for Nigel. Furthermore both the SDLP and Sinn Fein used the ‘new interface argument’ when housing was proposed at the back of the Mountainview area. So no side is innocent on this issue. At the end of the day Chris if you lucky enough to be given a social house which nowadays are just as good in quality and style as anything in private estates then can you spurn it?

    At worst you will only pay rent of £200-250 instead of the private rented £400plus and if you have to move up to ligoniel is that really a big issue?

  • Chris

    You seem to be arguing that equal but seperate is not just a possible outcome but a desireable one.
    You concede that equality conjures up different ubderstandings. Take what you call my silly loos example. Many academics use that one to teach studenys the difference between equity and equality. Two quite different things. This is a debate which has to go beyond equity. It need to envision a community which is shared and equal not seperate. Which futre do you want?
    I think you will find the governments and major parties on this island have given thought to community relations.
    Conall

  • Chris

    Sorry for the typos above.

    You seem to be arguing that equal but separate is not just a possible outcome but a desirable one, particularly in N Belfast.

    You concede that equality conjures up different understandings. Take what you call my silly loos example. Many academics use that one to teach students the difference between equity and equality; two quite different things.

    This is a debate which has to go beyond equity. It needs to envision a community which is shared and equal not separate. Which future do you want?

    I think you will find the governments and major parties on this island have given thought to community relations.

    Conall

  • Chris

    You say people need to be “challenged to accept the equal legitimacy and validity of the contrasting/ opposing views of their neighbours.”

    What does this mean?

    For example if I were a traveller and I settled in an estate. Do my neighbours need to respect my identity or do I need to enjoy the right to run horses on my land?

    Me being an SDLP supporter and a John Hume fan. Do you envisage me having the right to example broadcast his speeches from a big loudspeaker out the front to a street with nationalist, unionist and Indian families living on it?

    Because if you are saying my neighbours should be challenged to accept me then I will need to find ways of challenging them and reminding them of how different I may or may not be to them. It seems you want to empower me to assert my differences between my neighbours. This is the problem with the SF argument. In reality it will lead to conflict not cohesion. Whilst you can tick the rights box you loose all respect and weaken community relations as a result.

    Id rather put the Executives energies into building shared communities where people are able to live and let live and where true equality can be achieved. Respect for difference is a fundamental requirement for successful communities. I am not sure living in a permanent state of challenge is.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Conall

    What it means is fairly straightforward and runs to the core of resolving the more protracted disputes in this society.

    Accepting the equal validity of the Irish nationalist and unionist traditions has repercussions for power-sharing at local government level, just as it challenges unionists and nationalists to accept expressions of one another’s identity.

    Far from endorsing ‘separate but equal,’ it means embracing equality as the foundation of an inclusive future.

    Again, you relate to silly examples and dodge the question regarding how the ‘island’s other parties’ have reached a uniform position on a shared future.

    Take the example of Sinn Fein’s position regarding the flying of flags and siting of emblems in civic buildings. The party has signed up to embracing equality or neutrality in this regard, with the Union Flag and Irish National Flag given equal status, as Alex Maskey illustrated during his tenure as Belfast Mayor.

    This is a considerably more progressive position then arguing Ulster is British and thus the Union Flag must fly- from community centres, recycling depots and God knows where else.

    This is the real choice people face, as challenging some to embrace equality remains the key to dealing with the poisonous legacy of sectarianism- political and religious- in our society, as the murder of Kevin McDaid illustrated earlier this year.

    Driftwood
    I’m guessing Billy Leonard’s quite relieved that he’s “no John Gorman” (shades of Lloyd Bentsen-Dan Quayle VP debate circa 1988)

    I don’t know how ‘they’ square ‘their’ religion with political beliefs, but I’d hazard a guess ‘they’ do it the same way members of any other political party do.

    Oh, and ‘they’ do exist, as members of other political parties will testify.

    barnshee

    You may know of ‘NO’ protestant teachers in catholic schools, but I’d suggest that’s because you don’t know many people in catholic schools.

    Sure, the catholic ethos ‘bit’ may effectively restrict the number of non-catholic teachers in the primary sector, but if you bothered to talk to anyone in education then you’d know there are quite a number of non-catholics teaching in catholic secondary and grammar schools, and I know quite a few myself who I have been fortunate enough to have worked with during my teaching career.

    Sorry if that shatters another myth…

  • Chris Donnelly

    Conall
    Returning to your academic friends WC example: resolving that would appear to be entirely consistent with Sinn Fein’s insistence upon objective need as a determining factor, which would provide the fair, equitable outcome having assessed the situation in a manner treating all equally.

    With regard to separate but equal, the only politician I know of actively promoting said vision as desirable outcome is the current DCAL Minister, who has publicly stated he wants equal monies for Irish and Ulster Scots culture.

    He musntn’t be aware he’s lined up along with the SDLP and all the ‘island’s other parties….’

  • Chris

    Thanks for this.

    But the loo situation shows you can never treat everyone equally and achieve good relations.

    The only segregated solution to the loo scenario that leads to good relations is more loos for the girls and less for the boys unless you want to argue building a larger but equal number for both and then having over supplied the lads. Apply equity and you fail. Option two would be to build shared loos which is common now in many places around the world.

    Put in a solution which is built on good relations, i.e. an acknowledgement that boys and girls have different requirements and true equality can be reached.

    With regard to the poisonous legacy of sectarianism I think the republican movement still have some serious work to do to convince the rest of us on this island that mindsets have move beyond the violence and misery they inflicted on everyone for four decades.

    I am not setting out to disagree with Sf on this issue. I and many others believe they are failing to grasp the relationship between equality and good relations and so risk loosing the entire policy opportunity because it appears from the outside that it is more important to get you way that find a consensus position.

    Out for the day so apologies for having to drop out of the debate here.

  • Reader

    barnshee: Chris is anxious to dodge the ‘prods in Sinn Fein’ issue because he knows he cannot back it up. Billy Leonard is no John Gorman and he knows it.
    This one cannot be nailed down. Even if Chris wasn’t bullshitting, it still wouldn’t be reasonable to look for a list of names. Everyone will make their own mind up so long as the issue is being discussed.
    Do you think SF will put Billy Leonard up for election as an MLA again? SF vote management let them down badly in that constituency last time. Either that, or their voters did.

  • YelloSmurf

    As a non-protestant, can he tell me how they reconcile their evangelical beliefs (‘Born Again’ etc)to the SF/PIRA campaign of terror against such protestants. eg Kingsmills, the murder of Joanne Mathers by a current SF top minister etc.
    Over to you Chris.

    The same way that some born again Christians can justify loyalist violence. This is a sad reality for a born again Christian like me, but being a Christian doesn’t stop you justifying things which are obviously wrong, like vigilante terrorism against civillians (for example).

    Chris, the problem in Colraine was that Loyalists took offence to Republican flags. In other words it was an intolerance problem, not an equality problem.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Yellosmurf

    “it was an intolerance problem, not an equality problem.”

    One leads to the other. Embracing equality is the best way to tackle intolerance head on.

    Conall
    The loo theory’s getting ridiculous, but I’ll try it one more time.

    It’s not good relations that’ll solve it, but a simple process of objectively assessing needs, which treats all equally but recognises the differing requirements.

    Again, you refer to a ‘those of us on the island’ versus Sinn Fein scenario which simply doesn’t exist.

    As I’ve pointed out, with regard to power-sharing, the display of flags and emblems, cultural issues like funding for the GAA (which some unionist politicians would like to cut) and the ILA, it is self-evident that this narrative is fundamentally flawed.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Chris Donnelly
    “Another depressing generalisation about working-class communities.
    But if it keeps you secure in your worldview… ”

    Sniffy dismissal is so much easier than addressing the argument. Anyway, it’s non-working class communities that are the problem. Widening dependency culture is not the solution.