Motion: Cost of Division
‘That this Assembly notes with concern the financial and economic impact of continued division in Northern Ireland; calls for the Executive to conduct formal audits of their budgets and publish their assessment of the impact of societal division; and further all Departments to actively encourage de-segregation and promote cohesion, sharing and integration within their policies and spending plans.’
[Mr C Lyttle, Mrs J Cochrane Mr S Dickson]
Chris Lyttle MLA said: “It must be a priority for the Assembly and Executive to tackle the human and financial cost of maintaining a divided society. Yet in the recent draft budget, there was limited mention of efforts to reduce division. Executive Ministers are having to find £870million in savings for the next financial year, so it is startling that other parties would not seek to make possible efficiency savings through tackling segregation in our society.
“Alliance Ministers, David Ford and Stephen Farry, have been actively taking action within their Departments to promote a shared future. For several years, every Ministerial decision made within the Departments of Justice and Employment and Learning have been shared future proofed. This is a commitment within the DUP and Sinn Fein’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’strategy, yet no other Department appears to have done so. We need to see other Ministers detailing their Departmental plans on how they will be promoting cohesion, sharing and integration within their policies and spending.
“A 2007 Deloitte report estimated that division costs our society over £1.5 billion a year. If we took immediate action we could save about£24million by promoting mixed housing and £80million by increasing the level of integrated education. If other Ministers supported taking such action we could ensure that our schools, hospitals, colleges and police did not have to face such devastating cuts.
“Ministers must find savings before making cuts, yet I can see of no bigger possible saving than through tackling the cost of division.
“Building a united community is not just good for our society but it will be vital for our economy and finances.”