North Down Alliance Candidate, Stephen Farry, has called upon the next Assembly Executive to stop subsidising sectarianism, and to re-invest resources in promoting community relations and improving public services.
Stephen Farry stated:
“Sectarianism and segregation carry huge human and financial costs for society.
“While the Unionist and Nationalist parties quibble about the abuse of the regional rate and the level of bureaucracy, they are failing to take into account the biggest contributor to wasteful expenditure in this society – the costs of managing a deeply divided society.
“The Government has not yet quantified these figures, but Alliance is certain that they run to hundreds of millions of pounds every year. Simply put, bigotry has cost us billions.
“One of the most urgent tasks for the new Executive must surely to end this unnecessary expenditure.
“The direct costs include policing civil disturbances, the repair bill to buildings, roads and vehicles that are damaged, and compensation.
“The indirect costs are even greater. In far too many aspects of public policy, the approach of Government is to duplicate facilities for either the explicit or implicit use of one or other section of the community. These include leisure centres, schools, health centres, and job centres.
“A higher level of public expenditure here is tied up in buildings than actually delivering services to our citizens. The quality of our public services continues to suffer from under-investment.
“By comparison, the sums spent on community relations are paltry – less than £10m across the whole of Northern Ireland. Maybe a little more investment in this area, could help free up substantial resources for investment in our public services.”