‘Tackling division is key to overcoming social disadvantage’ – Alliance

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Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
Alliance Party South Down spokesperson Councillor Patrick Clarke has called upon the Social Development Minister to prioritise tackling division within the local housing sector. Following the recent announcement about the future of the Housing Executive, Clarke has urged the Minister to seize the opportunity and develop a regional shared housing strategy free from fear and intimidation. Speaking to Newry Times, Clarke stated, “Deprivation cannot be addressed while maintaining divisions in our society, as these drain resources and deter investment and growth. Some of our most polarised estates have more than 80% of residents from the same religious background. “The fact that an area is perceived as belonging to one side or another of the community results in all sorts of negative economic and social consequences: loss of investment, paramilitary economy and people less willing to use basic public services. “Even worse, this then interacts with other aspects of poverty to create multiple pockets of deprivation. We should therefore be seeking to promote shared housing within all sectors, as it promotes good relations and creates a diverse, inclusive and aspirational environment in which to live.” Clarke added, “The Assembly has an opportunity to address the underlying divisions and hostilities which have undermined economic and social development. “These divisions will continue to prevent dynamic development, deter investment and combine with poverty to produce a toxic mix of division, exclusion and disadvantage and therefore all Ministers have their part to play in addressing them and ensuring Northern Ireland becomes a better place for everyone.”
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