Friday, August 24, 2007

The opium of the people: now with a price ticket

David Gordon in today's Belfast Telegraph has an important leak.

In the run-up to restoration of devolved rule, the incoming Northern Irish Executive commissioned a report from Deloittes. That report has been sat on by Ian Paisley as First Minister (and, doubtless, also by Máirtín Mag Aonghusa as Deputy).

The report shows the costs of "The Troubles", not just historically, but continuing day-to-day.

Policing Northern Ireland costs £478,000 p.a. per 1,000 population: in England and Wales it is £183,000:

Based on these figures, the report concluded that the "maximum additional cost of policing due to the sectarian divide is potentially £504m per annum".

27,600 jobs were lost between 1983 to 2000, and directly attributable to "The Troubles". This cost the economy £12.5m a year. Replacing those jobs is, head for head, three times more expensive than elsewhere in the UK. Add to that £49M a year in lost tourist revenues.

Providing housing segregated on religious grounds was a further £24M a year.

The educational apartheid costs £10M a year, plus a further 165 additional school bus runs each day to ensure wee Billy doesn't share wheels with little Seamus: that's 45 extra buses, and costs £2.45m.

13m for community relations, and £7m supporting victims.

Grand total: one and a half billion a year. Say it quickly and it doesn't hurt so much.

Who pays?

The NI administration gets 60% of its income from Westminster. That’s £6B or £3,000 a head more than is raised in local taxation. Although NI is no longer classed as a region of special economic need, there is a further €1B over seven years, and a further half billion to ease the “peace process”.

Currently all that is sloshing around, mainly lubricating the public sector. The Government directly employs about a third of the work-force, for two-thirds of the economic output. Nearly 28% of the working-age population is economically inactive (the UK average is some 21%). All of that, by-the-way, from, the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, child poverty is 30%. Some wards in Derry and Belfast have 90% on benefits. That’s the E&SRC Report.

Democratic Dialogue reckons 30% of NI households to be “poor”, 2% just out of poverty, and 12% vulnerable. That’s half-a-million, including 150,000 children.

The Executive, quite understandably, is applying mouth to tit for as long as possible. But the day of reckoning is fast approaching.

None of that is news: that £1.5B a year goes on papering over the denominational divide is.

So, will tomorrow's London papers see the significance?

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