Tuesday, 20 May 2014

What is North Belfast? An office or a constituency

For years nationalists and republicans have quoted the social housing waiting lists for the North Belfast Housing Executive office, rather than for the North Belfast constituency, in spite of the fact that the NIHE office only covers part of the constituency.
However more recently the Housing Executive has provided figures for the North Belfast constituency and they present a very different picture.  They showed, for example, that on 31 December 2013 there were 1994 Protestants on the waiting list and 1988 Roman Catholics.
Nationalists and republicans have claimed that this is an attempt to dilute the figures but that is simply nonsense.  There are three good reasons for using the North Belfast constituency figures. 
  1. 1. Most people are familiar with the constituency and when we talk about North Belfast that is what they think of.  The North Belfast NIHE office is simply an administrative unit.
  2. 2. By using the constituency figures we include rather than exclude.  This is not about dilution but about inclusion.  Why should people living in Woodvale, Mid-Shankill, Rathcoole, Rathfern, Rushpark, Queen's Park and Glenvarna be ignored when we consider the social housing need in North Belfast?
  3. Politicians across Northern Ireland want information on the basis of the constituencies they represent.  Between April 2012 and May 2014 there were 176 questions asked in the Northern Ireland Assembly about Housing Executive figures and of these 143 related to the Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies, 19 related to council areas and only 14 related to NIHE office areas.  Assembly constituencies - 81%; Council areas - 11%; NIHE offices - 8%.  Those figures speak for themselves.  MLAs prefer to have answers on the basis of their constituency areas and that is the case across Northern Ireland.
That is now recognised by the Housing Executive and so while information on waiting lists will stil be available at a more local level, down to Common Landlord Area, the primary focus for figures will be constituencies.

Oh and as regards the North Belfast constituency the waiting list on 31 December 2013 was 1994 Protestants and 1988 Roman Catholics with the remainder not designating as either.

No comments:

Post a Comment