Jobs inequality for Catholics unchanged
Jobs inequality for Catholics unchanged

Catholics are still twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants in the North, with Catholic women battling even greater odds.

According to the most recent figures from the official British government Labour Force Survey, Catholic women are three-and-a-half times more likely to be unemployed than Protestant women in the North.

The figures demonstrate that, for Catholic women in particular, sectarian employment discrimination is alive and well in the Six Counties.

Successive fair-employment laws introduced in 1976, 1989, 1991 and 1998 appear to have had no impact on inequality in the North.

Throughout that entire period, the unemployment differential has remained virtually static, with Catholics consistently at least twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants.

In recent years, British government-sponsored researchers have claimed that social factors other than discrimination are responsible for the disparity in the unemployment differential. However, no evidence has been produced to back this claim.

The latest figures come just days after the official 2005 statistics on depirvation and poverty in the North were published.

According to the statistics, the predominantly nationalist parliamentary constituencies of Belfast West, Foyle and West Tyrone are among the four areas of the North with the highest proportion of deprived citizens.

The strongly unionist constituencies of Lagan Valley, North Down, South Antrim and Strangford have the lowest proportions of people living in deprived conditions.

A conference on equality being held tomorrow in Belfast will be addressed by one of North America’s most powerful elected politicians, Alan Hevesi.

Mr Hevesi is the financial comptroller for New York state. His office administers the second largest pension fund in United States.

Despite bitter opposition from the British government, Mr Hevesi has remained a determined campaigner for fair-employment initiatives in the North, such as the MacBride principles, throughout his political career.

At a press conference tomorrow morning, Mr Hevesi is expected to make a major investment announcement.

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