The Community Relations Council welcomes the statistical annual report issued this week by OFMdFM updating Good Relations Indicators.
The report shows that desire for a shared future remains extremely high across the community, with an increased demand for social mixing across the community in opposition to separation.Support for open and mixed residential neighbourhoods has increased again, with eight in 10 saying they would favour living in neighbourhoods with a mix of Protestants and Catholics. In 2009 92% said they would prefer a mixed-religion workplace, the same proportion as the previous year. In 2009, 69% also agreed that members of minority ethnic communities should be encouraged to participate in public life.
CRC is alarmed at the continuing high level of intimidation by paramilitary organisations. The report notes that in 2009/10 homelessness due to intimidation was up by a third on the 2008/09 figure, (774 compared to 580). Casualties as a result of paramilitary style attacks have more than doubled, 122 in 2009 compared with 56 the previous year, while attacks on Orange Halls have increased, with a third more in 2009 than in 2008.
Commenting on the report Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council, said,
‘The figures show that the public continue to hope for a shared and better future. Yet we are still waiting for real leadership and serious policy on this issue. Sadly, if predictably, the Executive’s published budget proposals contain almost no references to savings or investment through better and safer sharing in the future, in spite of the irrefutable evidence that this represents a significant economic issue, especially in the areas of greatest need.
There is clearly no room for complacency. While some things have improved, especially in public attitudes, the evidence shows that we still have a long way to go. The high levels of intimidation of others because of their religious beliefs, political opinions or ethnic identity do not reflect the will of the vast majority of community opinion.
The Good Relations Indicators underline the urgent need for the NI Executive to put in place a serious inter-departmental programme and a strategy to fill this yawning gap. A radical revision of the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration proposals would be a good first step.’