“Local houses for local people”? Hey, isn’t that the Executive’s preferred housing policy?

Michael Abiona protestInteresting story on BBCNI just now, of what appears to a racialist protest in Garnerville in East Belfast outside the house of Michael Abiona who according to the Beeb “serves in key roles in the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities”.

Interesting too that just yesterday the NICEM published a report which noted that “8.3% of reported cases were successfully prosecuted between this January and April”.

Abiona told the BBC…

“A woman told me the place should be meant for locals, she said there are a lot of local elderly and disabled people living in the area who have been on the housing waiting list for about nine years, so how come I got the house?

“She said it wasn’t personally about me, it was about housing. She was even asking me if I am disabled and I said I am, but I was wondering why she was asking me this.

“I went through the normal channels of getting the premises.”

Also interesting is exactly how these attitudes key in with a draft report on the development of a strategy for the NI Executive to tackle racial inequality leaked to The View last week, which apparently says:

“We acknowledge the link between sectarianism and racism, and we recognise that we cannot hope to tackle one without tackling the other,” the authors said.

“The executive will continue to work towards an immigration policy that recognises and takes account of our different needs and concerns here.”

Two thoughts strike me:

  • One, if both OFMdFM parties are as in favour of having an anti racism strategy in the field as they say they are, then, hey, what’s the delay?
  • Two, looking at those slogans from Garnerville who can deny that local houses for local people is already the prefered mantra most of the major political parties in the NI Executive?

Or is it that we only don’t mean it when the thrust of our otherwise unapologetically tribal politics has ill effects for racial and ethnic minorities? That’s a tough piece of #doublethink to explain to the roots.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty