Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Interpretation of deprivation study flawed

Ulster Unionist Councillor Stephen Nicholl has challenged the interpretation of information collated for the Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK report which found that experience of the Troubles led to individuals experiencing deprivation in the present. Commenting on the report Professor Mike Tomlinson of Queen's University, who led the study in Northern Ireland, is quoted as stating: "Experience of violent events in the past increased the chances of suffering from multiple deprivation in the present." Councillor Nicholl who spent many years working in Inner North Belfast has challenged that interpretation. "Throughout the last 40 years study after study showed that those living in deprived areas, specifically in inner city areas where communities lived cheek by jowl suffered the most during the Troubles. Rather than coming after the Troubles, deprivation preceded it. It remains one of the most challenging issues that society must contend with and while the divisions in society make implementing solutions more difficult we must be careful not to wrongly attribute deprivation to a single cause namely the Troubles. “I do accept however that the violence experienced over the 4 decades undoubtedly compounded the situation. That is why the Ulster Unionist Party has been leading the calls for the development of a Mental Health Initiative in Northern Ireland which would begin to deal with traumas of the past. “Attention must continue to be focussed on addressing all the causes of deprivation rather than being diverted because of this misinterpretation of the information collated."

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Being a shadow

The term shadow usually suggests something that has an outline but no substance and that is certainly the definition that applies to the shadow Mid and East Antrim Council. The process in preparing to "go live" is frustrating in that a lot of the work that could have been done has not been for various reasons. A small team of staff who are trying to identify the strategic priorities at the same time as ensuring that on the 1st of April next year the bins are still lifted means that many changes will be delayed into the new council term. For elected representatives who want to make a difference as soon as possible the lack of basic information such as the variation in pricing between the three councils for services such as leisure facilities, graves or even what assets councils control limits our ability to consider the next steps. We really only have a few months to move things on, taking hasty decisions next March with limited analysis of the impact will not serve the community in Mid and East Antrim.