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22 September 2005 Edition

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Domination not deprivation the cause of unionist violence

Domination not deprivation the cause of unionist violence

For OVER a week unionist politicians, political commentators and elements within the Irish media have sought to explain away recent unionist violence in terms of real social and economic grievances. 26-County Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and British Direct Ruler Peter Hain have also weighed in on this theme.

The deprivation line has been pushed relentlessly by unionists and their allies to desperately explain away widely publicised scenes of naked sectarianism and often nihilistic violence by unionist mobs.

Of course there is disadvantage across the Six Counties, including in some unionist areas. Sinn Féin has consistently argued that discrimination and deprivation need to be tackled wherever they occur.

But deprivation cannot be tackled by forcing sectarian marches through nationalist communities — and lest anyone forget, that's exactly what last week's rampage was all about.

In 35 years of conflict unionist violence has never been about deprivation but everything to do with domination. Those who launch murderous knife attacks against nationalists are not motivated by the desire to tackle deprivation but rather are driven by hate-filled Orange propaganda.

Meanwhile it is nationalist areas which continue to top the league tables of the most economically deprived areas of the North and the equality agenda continues to be undermined. Reports of the political intervention of British civil servants in the allocation of peace funding for the Orange Order must be a cause of concern for everyone.

Media Reports this week suggest that the Department of Finance and Personnel informed the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) that funding applications from the Orange Order should be dealt with without any reference to the organisation's sectarian activities. It then directed funding bodies to follow this line. This all follows political pressure from DUP MEP Jim Allister.

The implications of such intervention by civil servants are huge. It has at the very least compromised the integrity of the SEUPB.

Those charged with delivering equality in the Six Counties need to start demonstrating tangible outcomes. These relate to fair employment, the unemployment differential which shows that nationalists continue to be twice as likely to be unemployed as those from the unionist community. The piecemeal implementation of equality legislation by public bodies in the Six Counties also needs to be tackled.

The violence emanating from within the unionist community, inspired by the Orange Order, organised by unionist paramilitaries and defended by unionist politicians underlines the continuing failure of unionist political leadership. The DUP and the UUP ignore the real needs of their constituents and focus on out-dated expressions of sectarian triumphalism. If unionist communities are voiceless they need to look at the quality of those elected to represent them.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1