The poorest members of society in the North are worse off than they were a decade ago despite rhetoric by the British government to the contrary, a new report has found.
In a major report, the Committee on the Administration of Justice said differences in the labour market between the Protestant and Catholic communities had been ignored, while communal division had been increased.
In a damning indictment of British policy, it said there was a big difference between the rhetoric and reality of economic inequalities in the Six Counties.
Mr Cunningham said: “Rather than genuinely tackling poverty in both Catholic and Protestant working class communities, Government appears to be sectarianising the debate.
“It has disregarded major differences in labour market trends between the two communities; failed to target investment effectively at those in most need; and has pursued measures such as Shared Future and the Taskforce on Protestant Working Class Communities that at best ignore and at worst exacerbate community differences.”
The report was issued on the 30th anniversary of the fair employment legislation of 1976, when religious and political discrimination in the workplace was made illegal.
However, the CAJ said there were important sectors of employment and types of work that were still predominately occupied by members of one or other community.
“This finding suggests that the legacy of the past still has an important and potentially destabilising impact on today’s workforce,” it said.