Housing Equality Shouldn’t Have To Wait

Yesterday saw yet another housing inequality report, Equality Can’t Wait, published by north Belfast based Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) – the organisation which Inez McCormack founded in 2006. PPR’s systematic chronicling of successive failures to take action to eradicate the well documented religious inequality affecting the Catholic community in north Belfast is indeed impressive, if extremely depressing reading.

 For those not into reading long reports, the key findings have been summarised by the PPR.

 What I found interesting about the report is that, despite public perceptions, no political party emerges from the report with clean hands. Naturally, given recent and well-documented scandals about Minister McCausland’s stewardship of housing in the north of Ireland, much of the media coverage of the report has focussed on the DUP’s role in perpetuating religious inequality in housing.

 This is nothing new, and stretches back to criticisms of Nigel Dodds’ role as Social Development Minister in the first Executive (2001-2002). ‘Equality Can’t Wait’ delves into recent steps taken by Minister McCausland to redefine housing need and target new build social housing through a programme called ‘Housing Led Regeneration’. Unbelievably, some of the criteria which determine if new build social housing should be considered include: areas which “are experiencing a decline in housing demand” and “are in proximity to places where there is housing need”. Unsurprisingly, but no less shockingly, two predominantly unionist areas in the Minister’s own constituency of North Belfast – Lower Oldpark and Tigers Bay – have been chosen to pilot the scheme.

But of particular interest is the role of Sinn Fein and the SDLP, who would arguably have most to gain by taking strong stands on this, in what is essentially ‘their constituency’.

According to the report, thetwo previous SDLP Social Development Ministers, Margaret Ritchie and Alex Attwood, presided over decisions which significantly reduced the numbers of new build social homes for north Belfast despite the acknowledged religious inequality, and presentations by the PPR to the Social Development Committee on a number of occasions.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP were both heavily represented on the Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in September 2011 when they welcomed the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s decision to utilise Belfast City centre land for ‘shared space’ instead of addressing the long standing housing inequality experienced by Catholics in north Belfast.

Sinn Fein and SDLP, despite later protestations by SDLP, were both prominent in the political deal not to utilise land at Girdwood Barracks to address housing inequality.

Despite St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing Committee 2005 plans for an Urban Village in Sailortown, Conor Murphy during his spell as Minister for Regional Development  did not take any measures to promote religious equality in housing despite presiding over the largest windfall site in north Belfast – the 20 acres Belfast Harbour. Quite stark when contrasted with the all-party effort and multi-million pound investment into East Belfast’s Titanic Quarter across the lough. While it certainly seems that north Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Carál Ní Chuilín attempted to question Minister Murphy on this in the Assembly, there was no positive movement.

And this brings us to the crunch of it.

No doubt Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives will defend, with a large degree of truth and honesty, their history in defending those experiencing housing inequality. But the issue at stake here is not individual constituency work nor is it about local campaigns or press statements on religious inequality.

The issue is about exercising political power. Plain and simple.

SDLP and Sinn Fein are parties in government, not parties in opposition. They have the power to prioritise issues of concern to themselves and their constituencies. They have the power, which has been exercised previously, to dig their heels in and ensure issues pertinent to the implementation of the Good Friday and St Andrew’s Agreement are carried forward.

Orthey have the power to sacrifice, delay or compromise on equality and rights at the table of political party deal making in a manner which is ultimately detrimental to some of those in most need in our society– like the families waiting for housing in north Belfast.

SDLP’s  north Belfast MLA Alban Maginness released a statement welcoming PPR’s report. Let’s hope the SDLP will start exercising their political power at City Council, on the Harbour Commission, on the NIHE Board, in the Assembly and on the Executive to have this disgraceful situation sorted. Sinn Fein have yet to do so, but it’s likely they would concur with Maginness’ sentiments, in which case the challenge must be put to them as well.

But as PPR’s reports shows, it’s not an issue that is going to go away until it is sorted.

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay, a brief starter…

    Not sure why the poor old SDLP is getting shoe horned into this rather belated call for total executive power. There was no recent history nationalist solidarity on housing under an SDLP Minister for DSD.

    In fact one of the first deals rubber stamped by SF came almost immediately after Mr A’s exit from DSD, on the DUP’s (rather than the SDLP’s) Girdwood plan.

    And indeed, post the St Andrews stitch up (aka, the indigenous deal negotiated by Sinn Fein and the DUP), it makes sense. That’s where any expression of real political power on this and most other issues must come from.

    You know yourself Chris the mess created in education by a Minister who spent her time grandstanding her consultation with those in the educational sector, whilst rather pointedly not talking to the only people she could express political power through, ie said DUP.

    The other thing to note is that the equality issue appears to be a moveable feast. Emily Beattie was not the only Protestant teenager I knew who was allowed to blocked a large Catholic family from getting a Council house in the slum clearance schemes of the late 1960s.

    But these days it seems that breaking equality guidelines is a sport largely indulged in by those loudest in their calls for said equality. Joe O’Donnell’s niece blocking other Catholic residents in primary need of housing needs to be put into the account here somewhere.

    And this where I think focus needs to shift from community identity for real need.

    Treating everything as though it were a strained political competition over scarce resources between Community ‘A’ and Community ‘B’ leads to amateurish gambits like that, in part arises because it’s based on prejudicial argument rather than addressing real need at the point of delivery.

    Fix that, and you will fix housing and build confidence in the system.

    Clientelism, how are ya?

  • This is bedrock SDLP territory. The silence is frankly deafening.

  • Mick Fealty

    BD,

    Indeed. But the SDLP did have a plan for Girdwood which addressed the issue of Catholic need in exactly the terms Chris describes, yet it was directly undermined by Sinn Fein.

    In any other polity the SDLP would now be pushing SF into a DUP furnace of their own making, and be locking the door behind them.

    But they are far too middle class for that… 😉

  • Charles_Gould

    As Newton Emerson pointed out, the report takes a cavalier attitude to integrated housing development, and a more mixed and vibrant community structure.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    Mick,

    I’m beginning to think you’re right. Why are the SDLP not making more of issue of this? They could skewer just about every other party on this if they wanted but choose not too. I remember they backed Girdwood and then backed down and Attwood went on Nolan and get the flak for a deal they had virtually no say on and were no longer supporting.

    SDLP should make this their number one issue. It worked for them once, it should work again. If this is getting condemnation from as high up as the UN then the SDLP should be running with this between now and the european election and perhaps stand Alban again to show they’re serious.

    If they can’t make this work for them, they might as well pack up now.

  • Mick,
    in a single comment you have mentioned two key words here. Class and Catholic. You have also mentioned Need.
    In my view need is what matters to people. Class and religion is what matters to certain politicians

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick
    The SDLP are mentioned due to their Ministers holding Executive brief, and due to a statement issued by North Belfast MLA, Alban Magennis in the past 24 hours.

    The role that Sinn Fein could and should be playing is clearly emphasised above. Indeed I’d say it’s pretty clear that I believe they have the greatest obligation to ‘up their game’ and begin prioritising issues like housing need through a more aggressive Executive strategy standing on the solid ground of objective need.

    This isn’t a matter of community identity either, but of ‘real need.’ The problem emanates from the fact that clearly the Minister has a difficulty with the fact that the significant majority of those in ‘real need’ are of the wrong ‘community identity.’

  • Comrade Stalin

    the 20 acres Belfast Harbour

    You’d privatize it ? AFAIK, it generates a not-insignificant volume of income for the state.

  • Mick Fealty

    The prioritisation of real need ought to do away with the compulsion to keep using categories of people as though they inherently had different levels of need.

    That’s not to deny the fact that there are strong correlations between identity and need. But when ethnic markers replaces need for those promoting equality, we all end up reinforcing the very ingroup/outgroup patterns which helped produce the effect in the first place.

    De facto you prolong the conflict rather than addressing real need.

    On the political plane there does need to be a reckoning over past inconsistencies and misdeeds. It is not good for any of us that the SDLP keep on just meekly taking their punishment at the hands of both unionists and republicans.

    Not least when the public goods they have been able to squeeze out of some very thin opportunities (your tale of two constituencies is a good example) are expropriated by a political leadership that seems intent* on reproducing the insecure intercommunal relations of war.

    *NB, whether that is by design or dumb reflex (and I am genuinely agnostic about that).

  • Comrade Stalin

    There was a story a few days ago about the SDLP youth wing complaining that people were unfairly jumping the pecking order for who would go on an expenses paid junket.

    A couple of years ago an SDLP MLA claimed he was passed over – pecking order again – for a ministerial post.

    It’s hard not to get the impression that the people in this party take an inordinate interest in the perks that they seem to expect come with membership.

  • Mick Fealty

    And turning to housing policy Comrade, what say ye?

  • gendjinn

    Mick,

    prioritisation should be based on need and not on community. However, the peace walls and segregation of communities makes that difficult if not impossible.

    Take Belfast for example, one is obliged to plan for the housing needs for each community separately. Recall the event of Sandy Row in recent years.

  • Ruarai

    “And this where I think focus needs to shift from community identity for real need.”

    Well Mick, that’s the entire point of the dispute; Unionists disagree with you.
    If housing allocation in North Belfast is made based on the criterion ‘need only’, then something very stark will happen very fast: The waiting lists on the Nationalist side of the peace wall will be accommodated by derelict and unused housing on the PUL side being made available to them.

    In other words the sectarian demarcations move; PUL “territory” in N.Belfast shrinks and the clock starts ticking on the N.Belfast MP becoming a Nationalist.

    This is the whole shooting match in a nutshell. Put another way, the only justification for housing allocation being based systematically (i.e based on the rules, not a breach of them) on something other than need, is the attempt to argue for the “community identity” criterion trumping social need. Disgusting – but there you go.

    Housing Allocation Criteria Options:
    (A) Need – Consequence: A Nationalist MP in N. Belfast
    (B) Community Identity – Consequence: A “what we have, we hold” attempt – irrespective of housing need – to delay a Nationalist MP for as long as possible.

    Could Belfast one day, not too far off, see 3 Nationalist MPs for S, N and W and one Alliance for the East?

    Suddenly the “mystery” of constant PUL hysteria and DUP-UUP backing for it becomes a little clearer.

    You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em…

  • keano10

    Why in the name of God is there such surprise about the deafening silence from The SDLP on this issue? They have peddled a myth for years about being a party of Social Democracy, but they are about as left of centre as the current Labour Party. The SDLP are a thoroughly middle-class party whose only remaining support in Belfast lies within the affluent suburbs of Malone and Stranmillis in South Belfast. Why would people from that sort of background give a monkey’s about Social Housing?

    The loss of touch between the SDLP and the Catholic Working Classes (particularly East of The Bann) is the main and undeniable reason for their spectacular electoral collapse over the past 15 years.

    Judging by their current laissez-faire attitude they wont be getting a sniff of power anytime soon…

  • Chris Donnelly

    The prioritisation of real need ought to do away with the compulsion to keep using categories of people as though they inherently had different levels of need.

    Mick
    Would that we were there. Unfortunately, only a fool would deny that the lengths the DUP Minister has gone to avoid having to address the inconvenient fact that the overwhelming majority of those on the housing list in north Belfast are catholic clearly indicate that we’re not.

    Hence the need for people genuinely interested in creating that ideal society to expose the sectarian approach to governance, and challenge others to act to rectify the situation.

    As for those seeking to ‘reproduce’ the ‘insecure intercommunal relations of war,’ I’d say the the DUPs housing policy for north Belfast, coupled with its parading & protest tactics for that part of the city, very clearly demonstrate who is most interested in reproducing wartime intercommunal relations.

  • cynic2

    I am sad that underpining all this is that need is primarily defined by religion. Why do people from North Belfast HAVE to be housed in North Belfast? What about other areas? And why do we assume that the segregated estates of the past are the model we have to follow?

    I know that those are questions that politically awkward answers> The reality is that SF and the DUP (with the complicity of the UUP and SDLP) are in a political tussle to gerrymander where new housing goes to manipulate the number of sheep (sorry, voters) in each constituency

    Its all shameful but then we elect them knowing they will do that

    More and more I am coming to the view that Stormont has no rational reason to exist

  • Mick Fealty

    Well Ruarai, it’s hardly a surprise, and certainly no mystery.

    The housing issue, the rioting, the controversy over marching and flags are all about the jagged interplay between nationalist expansionism, and unionism trying to manage a long term retreat, or “the thwarting of community will” as I put it after the 12th riots.

    Remember, the DUP and SF are the architects of the grand indigenous deal called St Andrews: a deal that has been so ‘successful’ that north Belfast factionalism now lies at the contradictory heart of their joint administration, and little else.

    Chris,

    As for housing, there’s no doubt that demand exceeds supply. And it certainly needs some form of robust supply side reform.

    But as Newt hints above there are models other than those which simply replicate war-time patterns of single identity housing, that seem not to have been considered in the report.

    When the prize is the loss or gain of a Westminster seat, apparently there is no alternative to shared misery.

    Without a joint will and leadership in OFMdFM, you’re asking the SDLP to take all the risk with little prospect, so far as I can see, of getting anything other than the ‘sucker’s payoff’ (see the prisoner’s dilemma).

    Rather they ought, as any member of Sinn Fein’s leadership does when faced with an external proposition, to ask themselves: what is in it for them?

    I’m not sure I can answer that question, but if someone in the SDLP was to put it to you Chris, what would you tell them?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ruarai,

    I’d say you have it in one there – not just the MP but the city council too. It’s even worse; unionists would be concerned of a likely to be a domino/”white flight” type of effect as Protestants voluntarily (no intimidation involved) move out into the sticks which accelerates and feeds back into itself the process of areas becoming demographically more Catholic.

    We had a similar sectarian row, as I recall, over private housing a decade or so ago when the old Dunmore racetrack was being put up for development.

    This is why Belfast City Council is teetering on the edge of having a nationalist majority. To be honest I think this, and the removal of Dodds as MP, are inevitable anyway. SF may well have calculated that giving the unionists a concession over housing would not be a deal that they would end up having to work with 20 years down the line.

    Mick,

    It was you who mentioned the SDLP 🙂

    The housing issue, the rioting, the controversy over marching and flags are all about the jagged interplay between nationalist expansionism, and unionism trying to manage a long term retreat, or “the thwarting of community will” as I put it after the 12th riots.

    If this is what “managing a retreat” looks like I’d hate to imagine what they’re like when they’re on the back foot.

  • tacapall

    “Housing Equality Shouldn’t Have To Wait”

    Who is to blame for housing being allocated on the basis of what political party the applicant votes for and the development of social housing developed not on need but rather the religious denomination of the applicant – The DUP and Sinn Fein. This simply would not happen anywhere else in the UK. I cant speak about what happens in loyalist areas when it comes to residents committee’s and housing associations but im sure its the same as in nationalist areas, whenever Sinn Fein is involved in any of the above they always abuse their positions to either look after their own families or their own supporters regardless that others are in more need. Im absolutely sure if investigations were carried out into the allocation of all the new housing developments recently built in West Belfast it would find shocking statistics similar to that which happened in Short Strand, I know of a case where a landlord of a number of properties and who also owns a supermarket having his house repossessed one week and him getting allocated a brand new house in a new housing development the next, even though he has many other properties he rents out, how is this possible, because he’s an ex housing executive housing officer and a Sinn Fein supporter. Its a fkg joke, politicians should not be allowed anywhere near housing associations or residents groups, some are too close to housing executive employees and favours are done and those who are either more in need or higher up the waiting lists are shafted simply because they either dont support the right party or dont know the right people.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick
    To be fair to the SDLP, I think this actually presents them with an opportunity to challenge Sinn Fein. Given you’ve rightly highlighted that the latter are essentially in a two-party partnership with the DUP, there is little to lose and a lot to gain for the SDLP by standing on the principle of need defining actions, a stance the party would doubtlessly emphasise as being consistent with their overall political philosophy.

    Like it or lump it, we live in a segregated society, and that is as evident in the middle class villages and town/city developments voluntarily predominated by one community or the other as it is in the working class urban housing estates.

    I’d fully support an ambitious programme aiming to significantly increase mixed social housing across the north of Ireland.

    But let’s not pretend that it is a desire to realise such a vision that is preventing the DUP Minister dealing with the chronic housing waiting lists afflicting people in his own constituency.

    It’s good old fashioned sectarianism at play, the prevalence of which in society is precisely what leads people of both traditions to conclude they are ‘better off’ residing with ‘their own.’

  • cynic2

    ” there’s no doubt that demand exceeds supply.”

    Is that really true. there are thousands of properties lying idle often owned by the banks and NAMA. A little bit oif ingenuity might buy them up for a relative song and restore them to new creating jobs and resolving – or helping to resolve – the problem,. But this isnt even on the agenda – so why not?

    First – it requires frsh thinking and there isnt any on the Hill

    Second the electoral impact might be negligible (so why bother) or unpredictable (even more why take the risk)

    Third – the politicians really don’t give a damn unless there is something in it for them their parties or those who make donations

    If you think its bad now give it 3 years after McCauslands new trusts come in and see what has happened. In thirty years time after another 4000 dead people will look back and ask why we didnt just sort it?

  • Brian Walker

    I haven’t really followed this is in detail and still don’t follow it completely. So apologies if I sound stupid. I ask first : Is the conclusion that Catholic population growth exceeds Protestant growth to the extent that in today’s Belfast a shared future in housing is unviable? They could change the law if that was the only problem. I also ask an open question: does all North Belfast housing need have to be satisfied in north Belfast? No I don’t mean shunting people to a new mountain development up Collin Glen or somewhere and calling it Lisburn, just somewhere contiguous and agreeable? Belfast is like an old man with rotten teeth – full of gaps. Are we not lost when somebody complains East Belfast got the Titanic Quarter while north Belfast got nothing? What I wonder would Chris do with the old Sirocco site? Now there’s a question.

    What happened to taking politicians out of housing, the great cry at the beginning of the Troubles? Two reforms.

    1.Would it not be better to leave it to the operational freedom of planners and then ratified or rejected in public by a Housing Board of mixed lay and mixed political composition like the Policing Board? This single minister rule isn’t really power sharing, more lottery rule. Ministers should do broad strategy and accountability and remain at arms length from implementation. That would offer protection to ministers as well as those in need of homes..
    2 Chris point seems a good one, that shared housing can only be planned on a NI wide basis not on the basis of each bit of patchwork. When all’s said and done, it is an ideological position.

  • cynic2

    shunting people to a new mountain development up Collin Glen or somewhere

    Why contiguous. This ia small city. We all just want to live in gehttos. People form North Belfast often dont want to live in the West (just perhaps a mile away) or the Shore Road. Apparently people there speak different, keep whippets and store the coal in the bath

  • cynic2

    a Housing Board of mixed lay and mixed political composition like the Policing Board?

    Mmmm lets call it the Housing Executive

  • cynic2

    Tacapall

    …and how as a relatively lowly Housing Officer on say under £30k a year was he able to afford all those properties he rents out?

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    Chris is right about the SDLP,

    It speaks volumes that a former SF candidate is pointing out how easily the SDLP could push the issue such is the woeful job SF have done to stop the DUP abusing this issue.

    The SDLP, if they could be arsed, could easily organise petitions around new lodge or pickets outside SF HQ just to be awkward. if there’s one thing SF are scared of, its being outflanked on issues within the nationalist community.

    Robinson already remarked that the moment the SDLP highlight an issue that might win them votes, or at least make SF look bad, they start running scared.

    Will this is an issue over which they should be running scared because they have categorically failed.

  • tacapall

    “…and how as a relatively lowly Housing Officer on say under £30k a year was he able to afford all those properties he rents out”

    Do you have to be poor before your allowed to work for the housing executive or maybe he’s just a smart bloke who obviously knew how to pull the right strings. Take your choice.

  • Brian Walker

    cynic 2 The HE Board isn’t so constituted nor does it do its business in public as far as I know. Greater transparency would be the gain and these issues would be aired in public and sorted quicker as a result.

  • Mick Fealty

    I get all of that Chris, and there’s no denying that sectarian backs to the wall is what is at play here, rude, bloody at times and thick.

    But returning to to the rude instrumental machiavellian question I put, what would the SDLP actually get out of this as a political play, [apart from shafted, again]?

    I do have some thoughts of my own on the matter, but I’d rather hear your own candid thoughts first..

  • cynic2

    ” maybe he’s just a smart bloke who obviously knew how to pull the right strings”

    Absolutely. But the separate issue is that there allegedly are ‘strings’ to be pulled

  • cynic2

    “The HE Board isn’t so constituted nor does it do its business in public as far as I know.”

    A large part of the policing boards work is done in public but a lot is not. The allocation of individual houses couldn’t be done that way because of the confidentiality of the tenants concerned. The HE isnt theoretically constructed that way but in practice every party has ‘their’ people on it. In any case my point was the the DUP and SF don’t WANT openness

  • Brian Walker

    cynic 2
    Obviously individual tenancies are confidential but the zoning composition and layout could be more openly consulted on before decision. Clashes of interest would be more clearly and earlier exposed and debated. The Interesting thing is that so much of this thread concentrates on presumed political tactics. Without meaning to, It offers a terrific argument for diverting politicians away from the detail into the broader strategy.

    The North Belfast housing situation is just one example of how there isn’t enough momentum written into the political system to work towards solutions., Deadlock and delay are too quickly the default.

    Maybe commentators might also be a bit kinder and more understanding and look harder for solutions.,. These are very tricky problems at best.

  • tacapall

    Brian what problems is there to sort out except keep politicians away from public bodies that distribute services to the public on a one to one level. The allocation of houses and decisions about the social development of communities should be as Cynic says a matter for an independent body unconnected to any political party. We dont have politicians here we have political activists working to achieve a political agenda that excludes those who dont share their political or religious views. The one case I highlighted is only the tip of the iceberg there are many more cases where some people seem to be able to flit from area to area, house to house yet others are on the waiting list for years. The H.E is as corrupt as the two biggest political parties who control it Nelsons idea of breaking it up into smaller parts simply makes it easier for even more corrupt people to “Pull the right strings of the right people” to get favours done.

  • gendjinn

    Why is Mick seizing upon a tiny part of the post regarding the SDLP to derail the conversation about how housing needs are being held hostage by the DUP to the service their sectarian political needs?

  • cynic2

    “being held hostage by the DUP to the service their sectarian political needs?”

    being held hostage by the DUP and Sinn Fein to the service their sectarian political needs?
    …..

  • cynic2

    By the way what exactly is equality in housing?

    Is is that:

    1 housing is allocated to those on the list on a strict points based need systems irrespective of religion?

    2 Prods and Catholics waiting on a list have an equal % chance of getting a house in any given time frame

    3 All houses are assessed and each tenant is given a points score dependent upon how closely their house meets their needs. Prods and Catholics should have equal points

    4 Themuns gets less than oursuns

  • Mick Fealty

    gendjinn,

    I am not trying to hijack the thread..

    There are a number of interesting themes arising that I’m following with interest, but not commenting on… Since as Ruarai points out, electoral politics does have some bearing on the matter, I thought it was worth asking Chris to tease that line out a bit further… that’s all..

  • Brian Walker

    Standing back even further, why is there a complete absence of sensible debate about housing and the future of the Housing Executive and, no sign of it happening. Or am I missing it somewhere?

    We have two huge stories in a few months ; Red Sky corruption and vague plans for replacing HE with a new body with ownership vested in housing associations. I can think of no other region or country where the follow up to these developments has been so weak by economists, housing and governance experts, informed politicians and the media .

    Everything is overshadowed by the sectarian analysis because it seems that’s all there is; sectarian spoils and a bureaucracy – precisely the same situation as pre- 1969 only that Catholic politicians ( not necessarily the people) have been dealt a better hand. Sectarianism will never be reduced until ideas for better government are offered and the level of debate is raised. I know this sounds like spoiling the fun for political obsessives but it’s true.

  • Charles_Gould

    The really, really important thing is “shared housing”.

    No new public housing should built that is for one religion only!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Cogently put, Brian. People seem to have forgotten about the plans to effectively privatize most of the HE and place it into the hands of bodies which have a pretty poor record at managing housing.

  • Charles_Gould

    Brian

    ” the follow up to these developments has been so weak by economists, housing and governance experts, informed politicians and the media .”

    The blandness and lack of depth in local media has been discussed a lot here. But little has been said about the role of experts.

    Northern Ireland lacks an institution like the IFS in London, or the Frazer of Allander Institute in Glasgow, providin independent, publicly funded, academically-respected public policy analysis.

    There was for a while a body called the Northern Ireland Economic Research Institute (or something like that) which was considered to be ineffective. But instead of replacing it, or developing it, it was scrapped. One problem was that it was funded directly by OFMDFM which had no real interest in being subjected to IFS-type academic scrutiny.

  • Brian Walker

    Charles Gould,
    You’ve hit the nail there..

  • gendjinn

    Mick,

    Fair enough, it seemed such a tiny detail in a long post to seize upon. It smacked of An Gobsmacht’s focus on the north of Ireland comment in Chris’s other thread.

    A theme I’ve detected in stories over the summer is how SF is letting a lot of unionist provocation/misbehaviour/shit slide and either not commenting on it nor retaliating. Well except for the Castlederg march which seems like a pure PR stroke pulled primarily for the Haas visit and the beautiful optics it provided.

    Thing is, SF have demonstrated long term strategic planning in the past, so if I were their political opponents I’d have to be thinking to myself “what is their plan? why are they being so complacent?” It’s possible they have no hand to play, or they have been bought off and/or blackmailed into submission. If it’s the latter I’d be concerned of support sliding to the dissidents if it’s the former unionism should be worried.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pfft, when has unionism been worried about being shot at by republicans ? The return of physical force republicanism would suit many of them, confirming their fears and helping them urge the British to bring the troops back and implement various anti-terrorist measures.

  • Mick Fealty

    I could be wrong, but it does match with a general inaction on their party benches and under their ministerial briefs in NI, so my suspicion is that they are throwing everything they have at the Republic.

    I further suspect that they have a shared cultural problem with the DUP, ie that there was no real plan for how they might govern after successful negotiations. Opposition, in both cases, has always been their primary reflex.

    Like Labour (and to lesser extent Fine Gael) there was no plan for government. They have power, they just don’t show any indication that they have the first clue what they might do with it.

  • Charles_Gould

    SF and DUP both seem to have been pretty poor at pushing for more shared space: shared teacher training, shared housing, shared education (pupils in the same classroom), shared symbols.

    This is the main failing of this administration collectively.

    Remember they are a coalition so this is a joint responsibility.

  • FDM

    Charles_Gould 25 August 2013 at 7:44 pm

    The really, really important thing is “shared housing”.

    No new public housing should built that is for one religion only!
    ——————————-

    Absolutely not.

    The really important thing here is that PEOPLE NEED HOUSING. That is the basic need.

    YOU are superimposing you own agenda to say that PEOPLE NEED SHARED HOUSING.

    Clearly you [and Brian] have an agenda here to slip that word SHARED in there.

    What is that agenda and why should we suffer it to block the housing of people who are in need of it?

  • stewart1

    Seems that the Judge’s decision has stalled HE transfers all over NI according to today’s paper.

    Was chatting with HE person in pub on Saturday night & he said it was normal for bulk allocations to be a mixture of transfers and those from waiting list.

    If someone was transferring from 3 bedroom to 2 bedroom, surely that is creating extra space?

  • Barnshee

    “The really important thing here is that PEOPLE NEED HOUSING. That is the basic need”

    Explain why a choice on the larger family– the subsequent demands on housing and other services translates translates into ” a need

  • FDM

    Barnshee 26 August 2013 at 5:06 pm

    “The really important thing here is that PEOPLE NEED HOUSING. That is the basic need”

    Explain why a choice on the larger family– the subsequent demands on housing and other services translates translates into ” a need

    ————————-

    Barnshee I think I found you on youtube?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAeEJ3a2yt0

    Nice glasses.

  • Mick Fealty

    True Stew.

    But you are missing the Emily Beattie analogy. When transfers displace people who are in primary need, you effectively close the loop and provide people who are already catered for with privileges you are denying to those in need.

    And in the case of St Matthews, this edges directly into nepotism. Pretty shocking stuff. Clientelism of the worst sort.

    Striking we have to get this from a SF presser and not one from DSD… Haass concentrating minds already?

  • Barnshee

    FDM

    very amusing- now answer the question

    “Explain why a choice on the larger family– the subsequent demands on housing and other services translates into ” a need”

    A ” need” to be satisfied from public funds?

  • FDM

    Barnshee 27 August 2013 at 11:25 am

    “Explain why a choice on the larger family
    —————————–
    Ahem, you do understand that one of central principles of Catholicism is that you may not use contraception.

    Hence what CHOICE of a larger family are you talking about offering Catholics?

    Would you like Catholics to desist from procreation because you don’t like the end result, more of those pesky Catholic types?

    Or is choice that you are offering them to choose to become something more appropriate, like a Protestant for instance?

  • stewart1

    Mick

    Had a quick look at HE rules online and it states that ‘a ratio of one transfer allocation for every two Waiting List allocations should be employed’.

    ‘the total benefit of any Transfer (or a series of Transfers) should be greater than if a dwelling were to be allocated to a new Applicant.’

    So obviously HE rules can deem a transfer candidate more in need than someone on the waiting list.

    That was my point regarding a transfer tenant moving to a smaller property thus freeing up space.

  • RyanAdams

    “Ahem, you do understand that one of central principles of Catholicism is that you may not use contraception.”

    We are not building housing based on religious principles, and anyway, given the drop in the catholic birth rate over recent years it seems apparent there is a large swathe of catholics that are more a la carte with the ‘central principles’ than you would prefer to believe.

  • Barnshee

    “Ahem, you do understand that one of central principles of Catholicism is that you may not use contraception.

    Hence what CHOICE of a larger family are you talking about offering Catholics?”

    Er I think you will find that “artificial” contraception is the problem– I am reliably informed by a relative that theywith church blessing use “natural methods” after some blushing she suggested (after saying “WHAT”)

    http://www.medicinenet.com/natural_methods_of_birth_control/article.htm

    So its back to choice I`m afaraid

  • Reader

    RyanAdans: We are not building housing based on religious principles, and anyway, given the drop in the catholic birth rate over recent years it seems apparent there is a large swathe of catholics that are more a la carte with the ‘central principles’ than you would prefer to believe.
    Catholicism is entirely “Table_d’hôte”, isn’t it? If you go “Á la carte” you’re really a Prod, or worse.

  • FDM

    Sorry Barnshee my wife didn’t seem to think too many women would be convinced with your list of artificial methods of contraception.

    Therefore outside of you setting-up your own Treblinka in East Belfast I don’t there is much in the open or surreptitious line which is going to affect the rising Catholic population in this region.

    There is already a Catholic majority of children in the current school system.

    Some of this population will require social housing. Since they will be in a majority, then it is sensible to suggest that they will have the greater need in the region.

    At present in North Belfast there is a need to house many more Catholics than those of the Protestant faith.

    Redsky McCausland is intent, which we can evidence through his overt actions that we can document, upon pursuing a sectarian housing strategy to service partisan and party-political aims.

    It is a disgrace and all the parties interested in equality should be asking very serious and pointed questions of Redsky McCausland to explain his actions and omissions to act in these matters.

  • Barnshee

    “Sorry Barnshee my wife didn’t seem to think too many women would be convinced with your list of artificial methods of contraception.”

    A careful reading of my post would highlight (as I am informed) that there are “natural” methods of contraception approved by the church- do correct me where I am wrong.

    Nowhere do I mention artificial methods So its back to free choice I am afraid—- and the result of this free choice?

    “Some of this population will require social housing. Since they will be in a majority, then it is sensible to suggest that they will have the greater need in the region.”

    N Ireland does not pay its way— there are competing demands on the British Largesse It might then be appropriate to consider the effect on the competing demands before unzipping fagan.. — when do choices translate into “needs”?

  • FDM

    Barnshee 28 August 2013 at 7:47 pm

    when do choices translate into “needs”?
    ———————————-
    Banging the same broken Lambeg drum. Building an argument on sand isn’t particularly clever Barnshee.

    There are countless example when choices lead to needs in our society.

    Someone chooses to smoke, they need hospital treatment. We all contribute to the NHS. Choice leads to need.

    Someone chooses to break the law, like the PUL peaceful rioters time and again over the last year. We need a very expensive police force and judicial system to protect the overwhelming majority of society from this rabble.

    A less able bodied person, say eyesight/hearing chooses to attend school or university. The school must adapt to address those needs, with anything from specialist staff, classes, individual tutoring, changes in lecturing method, notes, labs etc…

    So we have just completed demonstrating to you above how in practically every facet of our society choices moves to needs in housing, health care, policing, education etc…

    The clever pig built his house out of bricks on a sound foundation. Advice others would be wise to heed in the future.

  • Barnshee

    “Someone chooses to smoke, they need hospital treatment. We all contribute to the NHS. Choice leads to need”

    An excellent example – we spend millions DISCOURAGING people from smoking—-ultimately we withdraw support if they continue with their choice- A smoker who gets heart surgery for a smoking related condition will be refused further heart surgery should they continue to smoke after surgery-i–n short the results of their free choice to resume smoking are visited upon them

    “Someone chooses to break the law, like the PUL peaceful rioters time and again over the last year. We need a very expensive police force and judicial system to protect the overwhelming majority of society from this rabble.”

    Hopefully they will be placed behind bars where they will be fined punished for the exercise of their “free choice.”

    “A less able bodied person, say eyesight/hearing chooses to attend school or university. The school must adapt to address those needs, with anything from specialist staff, classes, individual tutoring, changes in lecturing method, notes, labs etc”

    Ah I see– they chose to be “less able bodied” (hint poor example) Those afflicted had no “choice”. It is wholly fair to mitigate the circumstances of a condition they most certainly did not “choose”

    Returned to choice you see- bear the results and costs of your “choices” yourself do not impose any burdens they create on others.

    The tide is coming in round you sandcastle

  • FDM

    Barnshee 29 August 2013 at 4:55 pm

    “bear the results and costs of your “choices” yourself do not impose any burdens they create on others.”

    Is the antithesis of society. Why don’t I write to my local tax office and say: “Dear Sir/Madam ,

    I didn’t ask for the UK to invade Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria etc… Nor do I believe we should be paying hand over fist to save 8,000 sheep from violation by Argentinians.

    I haven’t seen my doctor or the inside of a hospital since I was 10.

    I therefore request a monumental rebate since I haven’t used the same allocation as the f’wits who have destroyed the wider Belfast area over the last year costing us collectively 100’s of millions of pounds.

    Yours sincerely,

    FDM”

    Reply from HMRC Rangers Liquidation Agency.

    “Dear FDM,

    Thank you for your letter.

    Hahahahahahahaha.

    You don’t get this society thing do you?

    Perhaps you should have gone straight on to school those days instead of taking a left turn to the snooker hall.

    Good luck with all that.

    Byes,

    Head Liquidator
    HMRC
    Craigavon [If you can find it]”

    Are we there yet Barnshee?

  • Barnshee

    “Is the antithesis of society. Why don’t I write to my local tax office and say: “Dear Sir/Madam ,”

    As Mark Twain ? said death and taxes are unavoidable

    Where you are unhappy with the way taxes are collected Its taht old word againand spent you exercise your CHOICE thru the ballot box.

    “I therefore request a monumental rebate since I haven’t used the same allocation as the f’wits who have destroyed the wider Belfast area over the last year costing us collectively 100′s of millions of pounds”

    Agreed- I would like back the billions spent on repairing the PIRA damage -where do I sign- oh wait PIRA choose to do that so that`s a need then.

    There are activities which individuals “choose” which society deems inadvisable / antisocial -(smoking excessive alcohol consumption etc) because of the negative impact on the individual and the burden imposed on his fellow citizens.

    Wishes and choices are not “needs”

  • FDM

    Barnshee 29 August 2013 at 7:02 pm

    “There are activities which individuals “choose” which society deems inadvisable / antisocial”

    I think that includes: peaceful rioting, mopery, invented grievance narratives and certainly sectarianism.

    You comments are clearly anti-social, so as a taxpaying member of this society can I ask you to adjust your ways? It is a choice after all.

  • Barnshee

    “You comments are clearly anti-social, so as a taxpaying member of this society can I ask you to adjust your ways? It is a choice after all.”

    Clutching at straws there as a long term tax payer I am not “anti social”

    I am anti waste and anti picking up the bill after others “choices” impose burdens on the taxpayer-this covers a wide (not to say comprehensive or endless) spectrum and includes

    All marching and protesting morons of whatever hue.

    All made up jobs in “reconciliation” and “justice ” organisations

    All clear ups after all “bonfires” and similar moronic events.

    The over funding of semi literate, innumerate incompetents who dole out ( other) tax payers money and posture as politicians This includes local authorities.

    Groups and individuals of whatever hue who ignore their responsibilities and the effects their chosen lifestyle will produce and then expect to be fed clothed and housed by the taxpayer.

    Where ANY section of the community is clearly identified as a contributor/causing such “anti social” activity, effect should follow cause and they be required to “pay up” via an appropriate sanction monetary or otherwise.

  • Old Mortality

    Coming late to this thread, I may have missed something obvious but where do the people who are supposedly in need of housing currently reside? If they already live in north Belfast, they are presumably registered to vote there, so how could any change in housing allocation materially affect the electoral balance.
    If they don’t already live in north Belfast, why do they need to live there? Are they employed in north Belfast? If not, what reason do they have to live there?
    I am not familiar with north Belfast, but if people were sleeping on the street or living in improvised dwellings, we would surely know about it. So what exactly is the source of the alleged housing need in the area?

  • FDM

    @Barnshee

    I was thinking that you might actually be grateful for those large Catholic families in the future.

    If those kids get good educations and take on gainful employment they become taxpayers.

    Hence they pay taxes which a) allow you to retire earlier and b) pay for your pension as they continue to contribute to paying for a person who cannot “chew the leather” anymore.

    Surely continuing your argument once you stop contributing to the common good in taxes we should float you off on some moving ice floe or indeed pitch you a raised platform to die on [a la native Americans] or indeed just create some Logan’s Run type euthanasia programme?

    Remembering of course that our taxes are paying off yesteryears excesses, the “I paid for my retirement” argument is crap. The current working generation pays the way for the current pensioners.

    So the moral of the story is Barnshee, you should be asking those RC ladies and gents to procreate like rabbits so you get a pension increase!

    Nice.

  • Barnshee

    “Hence they pay taxes which a) allow you to retire earlier and b) pay for your pension as they continue to contribute to paying for a person who cannot “chew the leather” anymore.”

    This the nub of my argument —NI does not pay its way- it never has (and very probably never will) The deficit fiasco has been funded by the British taxpayer This burden on the tax payer(SE England branch) grew exponentially from the 1960`s on. The party is now over -NI will increasingly have to live within its income.

    Increasing population levels will mean even more pressure on resources and force even more dilution of the resources -including housing resources.

    There will be no good fairy or Father Christmas figure arriving with a sack full of jobs and money

    Procreate with care -the dole queue and the homeless hostel loom on the horizon

    PS Can`t wait for the Assembly to implement “British” welfare cuts whilst claiming “its not our fault its them nasty brits so it is they won`t give us any more money”

  • FDM

    Barnshee if the Brits want this place then they get to pay for it.

    If it is to be as British as Finchley then all that is available to the “citizens” there must by law be available here.

    If successive British governments had not overseen the continued destruction of the economy here, which Unionists made a good start on for 50 years, then we wouldn’t be in the hole we are in.

    It is a bit much to suggest that those with the least power in our society are those responsible for the wasteland that this region has been made.

    British types wanted to hold on to the six. Look at the bloody mess they have made of them.

    As far as I am concerned whilst the british types want sovereignty here they get to pay through the nose for it in much the same way they pay outrageous amounts to protect several sheep with fighter planes in the South Atlantic.

  • Barnshee

    “It is a bit much to suggest that those with the least power in our society are those responsible for the wasteland that this region has been made.

    British types wanted to hold on to the six. Look at the bloody mess they have made of them.”

    It was not the “Brits ” who bombed the shit out of the place

    They /We wish the fucking place could be towed 1000 miles out into the Atlantic and sunk.

    The continued reduction in the subvention is welcome as NI is forced to accept the results of the collective “choices” of its citizens- and as unemployment and housing pressures increase– the society in N I might just look inward and establish exactly who created this mess.

    Make that 2000 miles just in case

  • FDM

    Barnshee 31 August 2013 at 7:46 pm

    “It was not the “Brits ” who bombed the shit out of the place. ”

    Tell that to the relations of those killed in Dublin and Monaghan.

    “They /We wish the fucking place could be towed 1000 miles out into the Atlantic and sunk.”

    Our British brothers want rid of us? How can this be?

    “collective “choices” of its citizens-”

    Which of us chose to be part of the UK? I thought it was an arbitrary decision forced upon the Irish people, with the threat of violence, by the British government?

    “Make that 2000 miles just in case”

    Can’t they move us beside the Falklands so that we can take care of the sheep?

  • Barnshee

    “Can’t they move us beside the Falklands so that we can take care of the sheep?”

    A different hemisphere and what 12000 miles away where do I sign

    Is the costs old boy– if you rubbed along on your own or lived on what taxes you raise you would not hear a squeek from GB. Over 40 years the rising costs of NI has been allowed to happen on a scale that the UK will not cope with –and this without public consent being sought or given.

    Whatever peoples view of the situation it appears that recent (UK) governments have the beginnings of a grasp on it. Sammy and Co being sent back without an extra bean was a strong signal as the refusal of the blessed Theresa to get involved in the recent chapter of the mess. We have moved to a strategy of “hands off” and a “tough love” funding mode

    Sort it out yourselves-the party is over-you want to throw stones at each other and the police? Fine -remember its all out of the block grant (and forget about “action” in GB the costs for that will come out of the block grant as well

    The locals, carefuly shafted in polar opposite camps by those Brits will have to create a local system for managing the effects on housing, infrastructure, jobs, the NHS, schools and benefits.

    “Stormont” is the tip of a pyramid of a public spending pyramid far beyond that necessary or sensible for NI. This British largess props up a population level far beyond that supportable by native effort. As the money runs down (hopefully slowly) the only real solution will be for fewer people working harder for lower wages. The alternative is a continued comfortable living for some combined with high unemployment levels,housing shortages and pressures on the local NHS and infrastructure.

    The good fairy has gone and taken her cheque book with her.There will be universal hostility to groups who make excessive demands on the( declining) public services