éirígí candidate for the Lower Falls in the forthcoming local government elections in the Six Counties John McCusker has said the publication of a report on rising levels of deprivation is proof that Stormont isn’t working for working class people.
Research carried out by the Research and Library Service of the Six County assembly has confirmed that life for people living in the most socially and economically deprived areas of the North has got worse since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
According to the report, the Whiterock, Falls and Shankill, all in West Belfast, and the New Lodge in North Belfast make up the four most poverty-stricken areas in the Six Counties.
Other areas of West Belfast singled out for mention in the report were Clonard, Twinbrook, Upper Springfield, Colin Glen, Glencairn, Glencolin and Beechmount.
McCusker said: “This report is just the latest tranche of evidence to prove that there has been next to no peace dividend for working class people, particularly in deprived nationalist communities.
“The report finds that the proportion of people claiming benefits and unable to heat their homes has increased, the gap between the rich and poor has widened, life expectancy in West Belfast has fallen and people in the west of the city remain disproportionately likely to suffer from the effects of deprivation.
“There has been no radical or structural change in society in the Six Counties since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. In fact, the institutions the agreement created are designed to minimise change, not maximise it. This situation has been exacerbated by the economic crisis now affecting Ireland and the world at large.”
McCusker added: “With the British government and its administration now using this economic crisis as a cover to launch devastating attacks on public services and community resources, levels of deprivation in already deprived areas are likely to get worse.
“However, this report should serve as a wake up call for the communities in question. Just like British direct rule ministers before them, the establishment politicians at Stormont have failed working class communities.
“It is time for us to take our lives back into our own hands and begin the struggle to protect our public services and our right to a decent standard of living. Stormont and those who inhabit it can provide no answers to the problems facing working class people.
“It is time to ditch their failed strategy and build a movement for change that can provide hope for the future and alternatives for the present. éirígí is determined to play its part in that initiative.”
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