Naomi Long MLA said: “OFMDFM’s failure to publish its Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy is causing serious problems in the area of community relations.
“Important projects are suffering because they cannot plan for the future. Much valuable work to improve community relations on the ground is being done by local communities and Councils, but people want to their commitment reflected in the actions of Government. They want the work which they do to be supported by a proper framework at Assembly and Executive level. Without this strategy in place OFMDFM appears visionless on how it intends to create a truly shared future for everyone. This failure also means that OFMDFM has no up-to-date strategy on racial equality either, which is alarming given that hate crime is a very real problem in Northern Ireland.
“Segregation costs Northern Ireland around £1 billion annually, yet the Executive seems content to continue with a ‘two communities’ approach. This week, we heard there’s a £1 billion shortfall in Finance Minister Nigel Dodd’s budget. To ignore the cost of division now would at best be shameful, and at worst totally negligent.
“In this current economic climate, radical methods must be used to deliver value for money without reducing the quality of local services. Beginning a process which will tackle segregation is the most sensible way of making Northern Ireland work better and more efficiently.
“It is staggering that OFMDFM set the deadline for publishing this strategy themselves, yet they still failed to meet it. Next week’s Assembly debate gives MLAs an important opportunity to register their annoyance at OFMDFM’s failure in the important area of community relations. Delivery is needed now, and no more excuses will be accepted.”