Poor, sectarian NI costs £1.5bextra to run

SECTARIANISM, poverty and demographics make Northern Ireland £1.5billion per year more expensive than if it should be, according to a report commissioned by the Department if the Environment (DoE).

The cost of division research was commissioned in 2006 and was conducted by Deloitte.

Providing details of its results last week Environment Minister Alex Attwood revealed the additional £1.5bn in costs was not just down to division between Protestants and Catholics but also as a result of poverty and demographics.

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He stated: “The report cites a total figure of £1.5 billion pounds as the estimated value of additional, annual expenditure as a result of division in our society. “The research provides an upper limit of the cost of the divide by comparing Northern Ireland’s public expenditure as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with that of other comparable regions.”

He said the extra cost was not just down to paying for Protestant and Catholic community centres practically next door to one another.

“This comparison indicates a maximum additional spend in the range of £1.5 billion but a wide range of other factors influence this level of spend, such as deprivation and demographics, not just the impact of the divide or the troubles. “The £1.5 billion figure is not a summation of the actual costs that were able to be identified but a comparator with other regions.

“Therefore, overall due to the number of variables involved it is not possible to calculate the annual additional cost of service delivery that is due to our divided society.

“However, in relation to the services provided by DOE it is likely that any additional costs would be of a lower level.”