Thousands to mark Community Relations Week with 150 events
Division costs £1billion each year
Community Relations Week shows public determination to address sectarianism
Northern Ireland is still a very divided society- and division has real costs for real lives. But change will need commitment and effort by all. There is no quick fix, the chief executive of the Community Relations Council says today as thousands of people get ready to mark Community Relations Week.
Duncan Morrow points out that some 150 Community Relations Week events over the next seven days will demonstrate the strong determination that exists in communities throughout Northern Ireland to challenge sectarianism and racism.
He says that dealing with these important issues requires considerable focus and determination from across society, and that political direction is key.
Dr Morrow points out that division in Northern Ireland costs over £1billion per annum and addressing it is fundamental to creating a prosperous society. He says that a Programme for Governmentthat has at its base a strategy for addressing division should be devised to help Northern Ireland move forward and achieve its potential.
Dr Morrow says that every pound invested in dealing with division promises to be paid back many times over by supporting economic development, reducing duplication and improving efficiency.
He continues: “New jobs and an end to public sector dependency will remain elusive if there are safer places for investment to go”.
“We know that division costs Northern Ireland at least £1billion each year. There is lost investment and lost tourism, negative impacts on the labour force and educational outcomes, and direct and indirect costs for service delivery. More than ever, when money is tight, Northern Ireland needs to deal with this, for all our sakes.
“The additional cost of policing the divide alone is estimated at around £500m annually. This is significantly more than the impact on the Northern Ireland block grant that is expected to result should corporation tax be reduced.
“The recent Assembly Election helps demonstrate that we now have a political system that enjoys genuine intercommunity support. Political agreement offers the chance for positive change. If we can grasp this opportunity, we can leave a very powerful legacy for our children in the form of a society that is genuinely open, free and shared, with a better quality of life, and an economy that can grow unhindered by the past.”
Further information about Community Relations Week is available at www.nicrc.org.uk
Chris Harrison MCIPR
JPR Sylvan House 232-240 Belmont Road Belfast BT4 2AW