11 January 2006

Maskey: Give cash on basis of need

Daily Ireland

Eamonn Houston


British government money allocated to deprived areas of the North must be allocated on the basis of need, a senior Sinn Féin figure said last night.
South Belfast assembly member Alex Maskey made his comments in the wake of an announcement by direct-rule minister David Hanson.
The minister said each pound of government cash funnelled into loyalist communities must be as effective as cash spent in nationalist communities.
Mr Maskey warned the British government that nationalist areas remained the most deprived in the North.
He said: “The reality remains, despite much hype and spin from the British direct-rule administration and the various unionist political parties who have long since abandoned Protestant working-class areas, that on all of the indicators, levels of poverty and deprivation remain higher within nationalist areas. This reality needs to be addressed and tackled.”
Mr Hanson confirmed that plans to be launched in March would focus on how the British government could empower working-class Protestant communities to tackle deprivation in their neighbourhoods.
Mr Hanson said yesterday he believed that loyalist leaders wanted to help raise educational and housing standards in their communities. He reminded them that paramilitary groups needed to do their bit by ending all criminal activity.
“I sense a debate going on within the loyalist groups about how they can move away from criminality.
“What we now have to do is encourage confidence in the political process and show that that type of activity is actually holding back the community.
“We have to ensure the transformation takes place in loyalism as I believe it is doing, slowly but surely, within the IRA,” said Mr Hanson.
Mr Maskey said money “cannot be allocated for reasons of political expediency or on the basis of perception”.
“David Hanson has to be very careful that his crusade in loyalist areas firstly achieves the aim of dealing with deprivation and poverty but, equally importantly, that central agencies do not take their eye off the ball and ensure that all moneys are allocated fairly and on the basis of equality,” he said.
The British government’s plans for deprived loyalist areas will be officially launched in March.

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