Catholic north-west is most deprived
Catholic north-west is most deprived

The sectarian divide still dominates the North’s economy according to new figures on the continuing east/west polarisation in the Six Counties.

Towns and cities in the mainly Catholic west -- the urban west -- continue to register the highest levels of deprivation and unemployment, the most families in welfare housing and the highest number of working poor and people without savings.

In fact one in two households in the urban west had no savings at all, according to the latest ‘Family Resources Survey’.

It showed the urban east was 59 per cent Protestant and 29 per cent Catholic - compared with the urban west which was 29 per cent Protestant and 62 per cent Catholic.

Households in the urban west derived the highest proportion of welfare recipients -- while the rural east had the least.

Urban areas of the west were highest on the list of deprivation while it was lowest in the rural east.

The Belfast area had the largest proportion of households without children, while the rural west had the smallest.

The survey covers the period April 2005 to March 2006.

John Dallat, an SDLP member for East Derry, last night claimed east/west inequalities will get worse after the “most right-wing budget in years” from the northern Executive.

However, Sinn Féin assembly member John O’Dowd insisted the budget had included funding to target areas of social need and the east/west divide could not “be eradicated overnight”.

“If John Dallat believes that 80 years of underfunding and division can be eradicated by just one budget then he’s lost the plot,” he said.

“Everyone accepts that the British government’s funding of the north is completely insufficient. What all the parties have to work out now is how to ensure new streams of revenue.”

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