Speaking during an Assembly debate on the Programme for Government commitments to tackle social disadvantage, she said “Deprivation cannot be addressed while maintaining divisions in our society, as these drain resources and deter investment and growth.
“Some of our most polarised estates have more than 80% of residents from the same religious background, and the fact that an area is perceived as belonging to one side or another of the community results in all sorts of negative economic and social consequences: loss of investment, paramilitary economy and people less willing to use basic public services. Even worse, this then interacts with other aspects of poverty to create multiple pockets of deprivation.
“We should therefore be seeking to promote shared housing within all sectors, as it promotes good relations and creates a diverse, inclusive and aspirational environment in which to live.
“This Assembly has an opportunity to address the underlying divisions and hostilities which have undermined economic and social development. These divisions will continue to prevent dynamic development, deter investment and combine with poverty to produce a toxic mix of division, exclusion and disadvantage and therefore all Ministers have their part to play in addressing them and ensuring Northern Ireland becomes a better place for everyone.”