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."