NI = a hub of multi-millionaires; a dearth of patents; a society of minorities; differing community narratives

The Community Relation Council’s second annual Peace Monitoring Report is launched this morning on the fifteenth anniversary of the signing of the Belfast Agreement. [Links to download sections from the report can be found in the CRC’s press release.]

NI Peace Monitoring Report 2 2013 CRCThe report seeks to provide “a dispassionate analysis of the trends in Northern Ireland politics and society” in order to “look not only at the phenomena that break out on the surface but also at the less visible stresses within the society, the forces that drive politic on to the streets. It is the force field created by these competing pressures that permits or inhibits the emergence of a peaceful society”.

I spoke to the report’s author Paul Nolan earlier this week and he talked through some of this year’s main findings and conclusions.

As I noted last year, the 180 page report is “part statistical almanac and part annual narrative”, with an indicator framework of empirical measures used to assess year on year trends and changes – using the dimensions of security, equality, political progress as well as cohesion and sharing.

The majority of the figures collated by the report’s author Dr Paul Nolan are already publicly available. But together in the one document they tell the story of this place. [Liam Clarke had a piece on the report in Tuesday’s Belfast Telegraph – only one part of the article is currently online.]

The report draws out ten key points before delving into the detail.

The underlying momentum of the peace process was strong in 2012 … with household crime levels at a new low, hate crimes (including sectarian) reduced, the security situation allowing the G8 conference to be announced for Fermanagh, spoilt at the end of the year with the flag protests.

Northern Ireland is now a society made up of minorities … with national identity split across British, Northern Irish, Irish and other categories.

There is increasing ease with difference … the number of foreign nationals living in NI has risen to 11% of the population; evidence of recent migrants choosing to settle and raise their families in NI; and homophobic crime has dropped while there is increasing respect for the LGBT community.

The Assembly has faltered as a legislative chamber … “the legislative programme, which had increased in tempo in 2011, faltered in 2012 when only five bills were enacted”.

The real debates on national identity and sovereignty are taking place elsewhere … a referendum on Scottish independence has now been scheduled; the Conservative Party have pledged to hold a referendum on EU membership; while the Republic of Ireland “has been pulled tighter into a centralising EU”.

The fragility of the peace process has increased because of the continuing absence of a policy on division … there is an “impasse” over the Cohesion Sharing and Integration document, and no agreed strategy for flags, parades or dealing with the past.

Some paramilitaries have been marginalised, others have been granted a degree of legitimation … the murder of prison officer David Black is evidence of the continued paramilitarism threat from dissident republicans, yet the Great Britain threat level was reduced in October; meanwhile “loyalist paramilitaries have been granted a degree of recognition by their stewardship of their communities during the flags protest”.

The flag dispute has exposed the alienation of section of working-class loyalism … and notably, while 2010-2011 dissident republicanism action led to “strong public displays of solidarity by the political leadership of all parties”, “this was noticeably absent during the flags dispute”.

There has been a decline of residential segregation and an expansion of shared space … the 2001 census showed that 50% of council wards were single identity (ie, more than 80% of population from one communal background) while in the 2011 census the same measure had dropped to 37%.

Inequality gaps persist but are perceived differently … deprivation indices still show that Catholics experience considerable more socio-economic disadvantage than Protestants; 20% of Catholics aged 18-24 are unemployed as opposed to 15% of Protestants in that age range; Catholics “continue to enjoy greater educational success than Protestants”; overall though, looking at equality issues, the nationalist narrative “is of an upward trajectory”, while the unionist narrative “is one of loss”. Narrative speaks louder than facts. [A topic both Chris and I posted about in light of last year’s report.]

Some further statistics from the rest of the report:

  • Northern Ireland (20.9%) like Wales (20.5%) lags four percentage points behind the rest of the UK (25.2%) in terms of 16-64 year olds with a degree (or equivalent qualification). And at the other end of the qualification spectrum, NI (18.3%) has nearly double the UK average (9.9%) of people in that age range with no educational qualifications.
  • While it was good to hear Finance minister-elect Simon Hamilton speak (video / audio) about innovation at the recent TEDxStormont event, figures show that only 23 patents were applied for and granted from Northern Ireland in 2010 and 2011, compared with 148 in Wales, 316 in Yorkshire, 376 in Scotland, 783 in London and a further 1063 in the South East.
  • In terms of being endowed with multi-millionaire, Belfast is proportionally banking way above its weight with 35.8 multi-millionaires per 100,000 population, third only to oil-rich Aberdeen (53.0) and London (51.6). Yet as a region, NI has the highest proportion of households with no savings accounts and the highest proportion of households deriving income from disability benefit.
  • The “Wallace Park” council ward in Lisburn is the least deprived ward in NI. Whiterock in Belfast is the most deprived. Of the top 20 least deprived wards, four have switched between the 2001 census and the most recent 2011 census from being majority Protestant to being majority Catholic: “that the four new areas are all in Peter Robinson’s Castlereagh constituency is evidence of a remarkable demographic shift”!
  • NI subvention CRCThe annual British Treasury subvention to Northern Ireland (ie, the fiscal deficit between our public expenditure and Northern Ireland tax revenue collected) is £10.5 billion. That can be compared with the £8.9 billion it costs the UK to be part of the EU, and the £8.9 billion it cost UK taxpayers to host the 2012 London Olympics.
  • NI gun ownership CRCNI has 21.9 firearms per hundred population compared with the UK average of 3.5.
  • NI has one police officer per 252 people; England and Wales (418); Republic of Ireland (330); Scotland (301).
  • Security wise, while there has been a rise in the number of bombings and shootings over the past three or four years, there has been a decline in number of deaths. For 2011, 2 security-related deaths, 11 agriculture-related, 59 road deaths and 289 suicides.
  • The suicide statistics are stark and shocking. NI is the only region of the British Isles to have had a steady increase in suicide rate over the 2001-2011 period, a near doubling. Over the ten year period, the suicide rate amongst 45-59 year olds has nearly caught up with the more often reported 15-29 and 30-44 year old age brackets.

From page 160-164 there is the best timeline I’ve seen of the build up to the flags vote and the subsequent protests: an unemotional and factual account of the decision points and the scale of the protests.

If there’s one disappointment with this this second annual Peace Monitoring Report, it’s that the final section looking at political progress doesn’t analyse the shifting tectonic plates within unionism in terms of elected members and how the UUP’s loss of four MLAs (David McClarty before the 2011 election; David McNarry, John McCallister and Basil McCrea more recently) affects the role of the UUP as mark fifteen years since the signing of the Belfast Agreement and head into the next stage of the peace process. The slowly growing desire amongst some MLAs for a more formal structure of opposition within the chamber will might helpfully form part of the narrative of next year’s report looking at whether the Executive is sufficiently scrutinised and performs efficiently and effectively when compared with other governments across these islands.

However, it is a superb baseline of the state of the nation and a report that should feed into evidence-based policy-making as well as many a blog post over the coming months.

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  • Alanbrooke

    I wonder if the graduate % is a result of emigration and there not being enough opportunity in NI ?

  • jthree

    I love to know the source for that concentration of -multi-millionaires. Many of Norhern Ireland’s millionaires have turned out to be nothing of the sort once the inconvenient fact of their massive liabilities have been taken into account.

  • Morpheus

    Could the gun ownership statistic be down to the fact that the police here must have personal protection weapons at all times, even when not on duty?

  • jthree – multi-millionaires data frin WealthInsight 2012/Guardian survey 13/9/2012

    Morpheus – personal protection of current and former security staff must play a part in the figures, but they still seem very high

  • Sir Ike Broflovski

    “In terms of being endowed with multi-millionaire, Belfast is proportionally banking way above its weight with 35.8 multi-millionaires per 100,000 population”

    How big is “Belfast” in this survey? If it’s c.300K then that’s about 100 people in Belfast with more than a million in net assets? Considering the number of family NI based firms and partnerships we have that doesn’t seem all that many tbh.

    We don’t want the place coming down with plutocrats but if a local millionaire means a successful local firm (and the assets are mainly commercial rather than personal) then fair enough.

  • Old Mortality

    How is a ‘multi-millionaire’ defined? Does it include everyone with net assets of more than £1m which isn’t that much these days especially for anyone who happens to own property in London? The figure for Belfast is hard to believe.

  • Sir Ike Broflovski

    “A dearth of patents” is interesting as we are an historically engineering and science orientated part of the world and we do have a Russell Group university in our city.

    You might otherwise say “a lack of local venture capital”, “a lack of a regional stock exchange” or even “a lack of a regional “Landesbank””.

    I’d better stop thinking out loud now and read the report a little later.

    But I do hope someone in SF or the SDLP is doing a comparison between these figures and similar figures for the Republic.

  • JH


    “we do have a Russell Group university in our city.”

    QUB sign agreements with all students that the University owns everything they produce while studying. In the event that they create intellectual property worth exploiting the University will split any profits on it’s exploitation 50/50 but generally will not impart ownership back to the student.

    The University is famously difficult to work with for enterprising students. I should know, I’ve been on the receiving end. I could give a number of examples (but won’t). Suffice to say, the only way to get back what you created is to raise your own finance and use the clout of the venture capital firm to pry ownership of the IP back from the Uni. This takes time and is very difficult (try raising money for a business on IP you don’t yet own..) but the only other option is to try to convince the University that your product is worth exploiting and then leave it to them to do a good job. No thanks.

    Personally I think an institution that receives a huge subvention from the Government should be forced to open this up. I understand UU are much better to work with.

  • Sir Ike Broflovski

    That’s interesting JH. I’ve recently registered just the brand for my business and that was painful enough – and we’re been trading half a century.

    Do we have a local patent registrar?

  • FDM

    @Sir Ike Broflovski

    You might otherwise say “a lack of local venture capital”, “a lack of a regional stock exchange” or even “a lack of a regional “Landesbank””.


    Actually this is the nail on the head comment.

    QUBIS [QUB University spin-outs] for instance will quote you that they have a 100% success rate.

    Now if you know anything about venture capital you will know that the success rate for real STAR companies should be 1 in 10 or a 10% success rate, with say 40% breaking even and 50% failing.

    What that tells you is that the capital for innovation spin-out is INCREDIBLY tight and they will only invest in sure fire winners ONLY after the spin-outs have actually proven they have won and ARE a success. They back the horse after it has passed the post.

    Additionally the very little money that does come arrives with a complete web of strings, with an enormous amount of undue equity in the firm having to be passed to others [especially the Unis].

    After success the involvement of these “partners” tends to be the “sleeping with a hand-out” type. They take the money and offer very little added value to the venture once it is up and running successfully. Conversely they continue to take an enormous amount of revenue out of the enterprise.

    Hence it is not that we lack innovators, its the blood sucking and enormous equity transfer from the venture capital [especially Uni spin-outs] in this region which causes people to walk away.

  • antamadan

    Jees folks. Click in to the reports (line 3 Links to download…).

    This is a treasure-trove of information, but you are all missing it.

    In addition, can someone educate me as to whether there is anywhere else in the world where an ethnic group that is the better educated are the inferior to another ethnic group on all measures of economic success,?

  • Reader

    antamadan: In addition, can someone educate me as to whether there is anywhere else in the world where an ethnic group that is the better educated are the inferior to another ethnic group on all measures of economic success,?
    I doubt other societies collect anything else like this amount of data. However, a good starting point for a search would be to look for societies with geographical separation, a separate age profile, differential emigration (of graduates) or differential immigration (of low paid workers).

  • Reader,

    > I doubt other societies collect anything else like this amount of data.

    Most create the data, but few have a funded organisation/researcher who collates it together from the different agencies and tells a story with it.

    In the first 5 minutes of the interview, Paul explains that the Peace Monitoring Report itself is quite rare – South Africa have something along these lines, but not in detail – though many post-conflict regions attend conferences to talk about the need to capture the metrics and trend them to see if/when they start to go off the peace rails.

  • jthree

    Here’s another one of those millionaires