Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Honourable Member for West Belfast - Running on his Record

Statistics, Damned Statistics, and ''Statistocrats''

On March 31 2010, the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRI) released the report of the Results from the Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation 2010 study. The report is an update of a previous 2005 study. A Consultation Document was published in July 2009, and public events were held from July through November 2009, in Omagh, Lisburn, and Belfast, to facilitate public comment. Over 600 copies of the document were distributed and over 550 downloaded from the NISRI website. There were 42 written responses to the document and over 90 verbal responses noted.

In August 2009, Northern Ireland Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, welcomed the consultation process saying, “If the Executive is to continue to make a real difference to local people’s lives, it is vitally important we have the most up-to-date information available to help us target resources more effectively. As the public finance position becomes tighter, it is more important than ever that we make best use of the resources we have.''

''I would ask for anyone with an interest in this important work to come forward with their views. This can help make a real difference to our most disadvantaged communities.''

The results of the consultation were peer reviewed by external academics and a Blueprint Document detailing the results of the final indicators for inclusion was published in February 2010.

The NISRI studied 890 small areas in Northern Ireland with a population of 2,000 people, and listed them in order of relative deprivation. Fifty two separate indicators relating to seven types or 'domains' of deprivation: Income, Employment, Health & Disability, Education Skills & Training, Proximity to Services, Living Environment, and Crime and Disorder were used to access levels of deprivation.

Spreadsheets, Graphs, and a 'statistical hors d'oeuvre', usually have the effect of making my eyes glaze over and send most of us into a stupefying state. With this report however it is relatively easy to draw some simple assumptions. The first one is, that in the top 100 regions of the most deprived communities in Northern Ireland, the first four are in the constituency of the Member of Parliament for West Belfast. They would be: Whiterock 2; Whiterock 3; Falls 2; Falls 3; with Shankill rating number 6.

To put what that means in perspective some simple number comparisons will demonstrate the enormous gap between some better off communities and the more deprived members of our communities in West Belfast.

For example:
Take a Belfast neighbourhood which most of us would considered affluent like Malone Rd.

In the Rank of Income Domain scores (where 1 is most deprived)

Malone 1 would score a whopping 883.
Whiterock 2 A grand total of 44
Whiterock 3 A grand total of 1

Employment Deprivation
Malone 861
Whiterock 2 & 3
11 and 1

Health Deprivation & Disability
Malone 880
Whiterock 2 & 3
1 and 4

Education, Skills and Training
Malone 866
Whiterock 2 & 3
78 & 9

Living Environment
Malone 589
Whiterock 2 & 3
26 & 141

Crime and Disorder
Malone 386
Whiterock 2 & 3
140 & 197

Children & Older People
Malone 838 & 888
Whiterock 2 & 3
90 & 1
50 & 13

In this disgraceful state of deprivation that exists in his Westminster constituency, Mr. Adams is ably assisted in the Northern Ireland Assembly by no fewer than 4 other Sinn Fein elected representatives for West Belfast: Sue Ramsey; Paul Maskey; Jenifer McCann; and Fra McCann. I guess it is only fair when kudos are being awarded, to include the SDLP representative for West Belfast, the very vociferous Alex Attwood. Alex is never short of a few words when it comes to criticizing his Sinn Fein political opponents.

Unfortunately, the numbers for Falls 1 and Falls 2, Clonard, Beechmount, and Andersonstown, do not make for any better reading.

Outside of Belfast, two of the worst areas are Castlederg Co. Tyrone, and Crossmaglen Co. Armagh.

I can almost hear the response of the Sinn Fein leader to the charges that his constituents rate the worst in every field of this deprivation study.

'The Statistocrats in the Assembly are trying to topple the Peace Process.'

For more information on the Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation 2010 study.

Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency

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