19 April 2001 Edition

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Sinn Féin backs 2001 Census

Sinn Féin Chairperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has publicly given the party's backing to the 2001 Census.

``It is important that everyone takes parts in the 2001 Census because the results will then be used to work out funding priorities within the Executive,'' he said. ``The results will also help provide valuable arguments for increasing the Block Grant that the Executive has at its disposal.''

McLaughlin, however, was critical of some aspects of the census booklet.

``The continued reference throughout the booklet to the term 'Roman Catholic' is not only a poor descriptive term that can dissuade people from identifying themselves, it is also overtly sectarian.

``I would also be concerned that the information required on long term unemployment will not be accurate enough to reveal the true impact of long term unemployment, which is substantially worse for nationalists in comparison with unionists.

``Issues such as this will be crucial in determining exactly where resources need to be focused under the Targeting Social Need policies that run across all departments.

``While urging people to take part in this Census, it is important that we recognise that a ten-yearly Census is inadequate. In the rest of Ireland a five-yearly programme is used as a more reliable and regular statistical update in monitoring progress. Here in the North a more regular update would not only allow us to monitor our progress in tackling discrimination, disadvantage and poverty but also give a clear picture of the progress in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.''

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