Eradicating Sectarianism: a long, long way to go

Party members (l:r)Tom Gillen, Joanne Lowry and Hugh Scullion at the launch of ‘Sectarianism: the Key Facts’ report at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Sectarianism remains the single biggest obstacle to working class unity, but its eradication remains a long, long way off.

A research report, commissioned by the Equality Coalition, addressing the institutional aspects of sectarianism was launched at Parliament buildings Stormont, today.

The report makes the welcome move away from a focus on personal behaviours and ‘cross- community’ initiatives as a way of addressing sectarianism and focuses instead on some of its institutional and organisational aspects.

Difficulties and dangers

Welcome as that approach is it is not without its difficulties and dangers. Workforce imbalances in large organisations and big companies can result from a variety of often complex factors which cannot be over looked or simply dismissed.

Reducing an analysis of sectarian practice to a numbers game sheds no light and serves little purpose. So too with equating every adverse decision to a sectarian motive or using the accusation of sectarianism to address every ill .

Immediate steps

There are a number of immediate steps which could and should be taken to starts to process of eradicating sectarianism from our society. An integrated and secular education system, a Bill of Rights , an integrated housing programme and the criminalisation of sectarianism would be a good start.

However, for as long as institutionalised sectarianism forms the basis of government structures and practices, there will be no political leadership from Stormont and no pressure to address either sectarianism or the vested interests which help perpetuate it. There is still a very long way to go.

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