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Templegrove Action Research Limited:
A Public Hearing on Minority Experiences in Derry Londonderry, Part 3
[Templegrove Action Research Limited - Main Menu]
Text: Ruth Moore, Pauline Collins, Dave Duggan & Marie Smyth ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna
We see the outcomes of this work as twofold: the process and the
It is typical of a project such as this that significant knowledge
is gathered in the 'doing' of the work which underpins the formal
outcomes in the submissions themselves. It was intended from the
start that focus on the 'process' outcomes would be a valuable
element of the project.
Many individuals and groups spoke about the benefits of the process
in that it provided them with a challenge to formulate their thinking
in a concise and focussed manner. We are left with a sense that
considerable personal and group development occurred in preparatory
work for the hearing. At it's most concrete, this manifested itself
in the fact that a number of individuals and groups 'went public'
for the first time at the hearing. Thus, one real outcome of the
process is increased confidence and clarity among some of the
minorities as well as the enrichment of the public discourse by
the inclusion of these previously unheard voices.
We learned a great deal about the practicalities of organising
such events. Issues which we confronted were, for example the
lack of wheelchair accessible restaurants in the city centre and
the difficulty in obtaining a sign language interpreter.
Yet the benefits of overcoming these difficulties, and staging
the hearing are plain. As a result of the hearing, the experience
of minorities in the city came to wider public notice. We succeeded
in getting considerable media attention in the local press and
radio. Good publicity in advance of the hearing and coverage of
the event meant that the submissions reached a wide audience.
At the hearing, we were struck by the energy and the excitement
of the process. In situations where voices have been marginalised,
formal and supportive settings which facilitate the hearing of
voices which are rarely heard is a powerful experience.
The learning also confirmed the value of the involvement of a
community based research organisation utilising academic resources
in bringing minority issues to official and public attention.
Proceedings of the Hearing
Written Submission read by Dr. A. M. Siddiqui on behalf of
the Muslim Community
First of all I need to introduce myself. I arrived in Derry
in 1974 and since then I have been based at Gransha Hospital as
a Specialist in Psychiatry which involves me doing liaison work
at Altnagelvin Area Hospital 5 days per week.
I try to keep myself involved with the community as well as profession.
I am Ex President of the Islamic Centre, Belfast and Ex Trustee
of the Islamic Centre, Belfast. I am also President of the Overseas
Doctors Association N.I. Division as well as Honorary Secretary
of the British Medical Association N.W. and Derry Division and
a member of B.M.A. Northern Ireland Council, Belfast.
I am happy to say that as a member of a minority community, living
in Derry myself and my family feel very happy and we have never
had any problem whatsoever in living a normal and happy life practising
our religion and keeping to our social customs. All my children
are educated in Derry - one is now a qualified Clinical Psychologist
living in the States USA one is a qualified medical doctor working
in Altnagelvin Hospital and the youngest two are studying at Foyle
The number of people of our faith are not many in Derry, but there
is a considerable number of people practising Islamic faith in
N.I. and we have an Islamic Centre in Belfast. In Derry although
we have no place of our own for congregational prayer I am happy
to say the local hospital provides us a place to perform congregational
prayer on Friday and evening prayer during the month of fasting
(Ramadan). For annual congregational prayer we all go to Belfast.
Initially we faced difficulties in getting Halal meat but once
again we appreciated the local abattoir and butcher helping us
to meet our requirements and now even in local supermarkets, we
are able to get Halal meat imported from New Zealand.
We do appreciate that the local population is very helpful in
making us feel welcome and happy. However we feel that our number
is small and most of the doctors come and go as they change jobs
in hospital. Those who are permanent residents in Derry feel that
their children need some form of religious education and some
form of social outlet. I know and appreciate that it is not easy
or may not be feasible with the small number of this minority
community but I feel encouraged by your effort to gather ideas
and feelings in this respect.
May I suggest that the Western Library & Education Board can
play an important part in providing certain facilities like providing
books which may help children to gain knowledge about Islam. Such
books are published in English and are available in the United
Kingdom. We may provide a list of books that may be useful in
Also a place in any school may be allocated to hold classes on
Islamic education one day a week and we may organise voluntary
help for teaching for a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday.
Derry City Council may consider helping us in establishing a Community
Centre for social get together and educational activities and
people from different dominations interested in acquiring knowledge
about Islamic faith will be welcome. This may provide an opportunity
of healthy dialogue between different faiths and promote goodwill.
We urgently require a burial place for the Muslim Community in
Derry as at present no provision is available and again Derry
City Council may give this important issue a priority.
A M SIDDIQUI
Response from the panel to Dr. A. M. Siddiqui
Patrick Yu - I have no further questions. I understand
very well the problem faced by the Muslim community in Derry City.
In particular I think I tried to address the issue because in
Northern Ireland we have separate rules and legislation in which
the ethnic minority people cannot practice their own religious
conviction in our school system. Possibly the local people they
didn't realise under the Educational Reform Order Northern Ireland
1989, the religious education in our province only has the religious
programme for Christianity. It must be compulsory once a week.
I think it is time now to voice the issue to the public and let
them speak on the issue on behalf of our people. Thank you so
much, Dr. Siddiqui.
Written Submission read by Sheila Deery - The needs of young
adults with learning difficulties
As a mother of an adult with a mild learning difficulty, I have,
for some years, been involved in setting up support groups for
such adults in Derry. I will briefly mention my experiences in
order to identify some primary concerns and recommendations to
put before the panel today.
A few years ago, myself and others were successful in establishing
a pilot educational scheme for adults with mild learning disabilities
in Derry's technical college. Although the scheme lasted for two
years, the problems that were encountered could, in my opinion,
have easily been remedied by a greater demand. People were not
aware of what was on offer. The education board provided encouragement
and support for the programme, but, like myself, were disappointed
in the low attendance. I believe parents and carers were not made
adequately aware of the resources on offer.
More recently I have become involved with DAWN (Disability Action
Awareness Now) and we have been able to re-establish support classes.
However, although these classes were initially promoted as a meeting
place for adults with a mild disability, individuals with more
severe disabilities have been welcomed. As a result, I feel that
the original aim of the classes, i.e. to benefit adults with a
mild disability, has been detracted from. I therefore feel that
adults with a mild learning disability must be identified as a
separate minority group with their own distinct needs.
As a direct result of my involvement and contact with parents
and teachers over the years, I am very much aware of a deepening
sadness that many young adults are being disregarded upon leaving
full time education. I feel that this may, in part, be addressed
by the development of a referral scheme to identify those adults
who may benefit from the resources and support available locally.
1. To increase and promote awareness of the resources available
locally for adults with mild learning disabilities.
2. To actively encourage the identification of young adults with
mild learning disabilities as a separate minority group with their
own distinct needs.
3. To set up a referral scheme to facilitate entry of young adults
with a mild learning disability into local groups and agencies.
Response from the panel to Sheila Deery
Mary Mulholland - I have a few questions actually. I'm
from the disability angle myself. I know the problems involved
with people with learning disabilities trying to get awareness
and information through to them at times, it doesn't always filter
through. And I'm just wondering if you yourself, Sheila, and the
rest of yous know about things like Disability Action in the setting
up of the disability forums in the area. Have yous ever received
any information on that? Because I know for myself with my own
forum in the North East where the problems of trying to filter
the information through is always a hard one. I think there is
a greater need for networking as well amongst the disability organisations
themselves. I hope that we can all encourage each other to help
each other along the way.
Christine Bell - Thank you very much for making the
submission. That in itself plays a part in helping create the
awareness that you are talking about. Thank you.
WRITTEN STATEMENT FROM FOYLE HOMELESS
The extent of homelessness in the North West has been described
by the statutory and voluntary sector as an area of high activity.
Over 20 years ago housing was on the social and political agenda.
Sadly today public sector housing is still suffering, being subject
to budget cuts and depletion as a result of social policy changes
and new legislation.
CURRENT HOUSING ORDER
In 1988 legislation was introduced in Northern Ireland giving
responsibility to the Housing Executive to house certain groups
of homeless people (The Housing Order Northern Ireland 1988).
Under this legislation there are strict priority need categories
including women who are pregnant; those with dependents; those
who are vulnerable as a result of age, disability etc; those at
risk of violence or sexual or financial exploitation. However,
there is particular discrimination within this framework excluding
the vast majority of those finding themselves homeless, e.g. the
young single able bodied person with no fixed abode would be deemed
not to be in priority and would be subject to long term homelessness.
Between April 1994 and March 1995, 10,068 households presented
to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as homeless: this represents
a rise of 3.5% on the previous year's figure. The total households
presented to the Housing Executive could constitute to approximately
20,000 people. Housing legislation and social policy will be undergoing
major changes in the near future. The introduction of the housing
policy review has taken into consideration many aspects of current
homeless legislation and housing policy. There will be fundamental
changes for homeless households who are waiting to be housed or
in priority e.g. housing will have a duty to provide temporary
accommodation only for twelve months to homeless people in "priority
need" and who are not "intentionally" homeless.
There will also be a move towards increasing levels of "right
to buy" making available or continuing to promote a voluntary
purchase scheme for housing association tenants.
Changes to housing benefit will only compound and contribute to
the current homelessness problem. Housing benefit to single tenants
under 25 years of age will be limited to the average cost of non
self contained accommodation in the locality. This means housing
benefit for the under 25's will be reduced to the equivalent of
single room rent which will be fixed by local rent officers. The
future prognosis for single homeless people in housing need is
bleak. The current legislation affords little hope in accessing
meaningful housing, quite often experiencing discrimination eg.
"No D.H.S.S. Professionals only".
Derry is a city of young people, these people will come of age
and will make demands on the public sector housing movement. For
many people in Northern Ireland, public sector housing is the
only viable housing option available. With increased demand and
high levels of unemployed, this will only lead to people becoming
more marginalised in regards to housing. Housing policy should
take in what homelessness means as in definition (a homeless person
has been described as someone who does not live in a place where
individuals and families can be themselves for better or worse,
can obtain peace and security and can flourish both mentally and
physically. It should be an effective base for family life, providing
relaxation and the strength to participate in our highly pressurised
and competitive society. I would argue that it is a basic human
right to have a place to live which is affordable, safe and secure.)
The tragedy of homelessness is one of a daily occurrence within
our city for which we should be working to eradicate, by providing
secure platforms in enabling the excluded to be included.
Verbal submission made by Gerry Coats and Eileen Best - Foyle
Hello, my name is Gerry Coates, I'm the Co-ordinator of the Foyle
Homeless Action and Advice Service.
My name is Eileen Best, I'm the deputy co-ordinator of Foyle Homeless.
Gerry Coates - Firstly I would just like to raise the issue
of homelessness. I'm representing homeless people, I'm not homeless
myself, so I'll make that quite clear. I would like to say firstly
about the extent of homelessness within the Foyle region and in
the North West and just point to facts hopefully, that the extent
of homelessness in the North West has been described by the statutory
and voluntary sector as an area of high activity. Over 20 years
ago housing was on the social and political agenda. Sadly today,
public sector housing is still suffering, being subject to Government
cuts and depletion as a result of social policy changes and new
legislation. I'm going to come on to some figures and then Eileen
is going to say a little bit about the current legislation. Between
April 1994 and March 1995 10,068 households presented to the Northern
Ireland Housing Executive as homeless. This represents a rise
of 3.5% on previous years figures. The total households presented
to housing could be cost sheeted to approximately 20,000 people.
I'll just explain what a household is. A household could be a
single person or a family or a single parent. Obviously single
parents are families as well. Housing legislation social policy
is under-going major changes in the near future. The introduction
of the Housing Policy Review has taken into consideration many
aspects of current homelessness legislation and housing policy.
There will be fundamental changes as homeless households are awaiting
to be housed and/or are in priority to be housed. Housing will
only have a duty to provide temporary accommodation for a 12 month
period and after that may be subject to resolving their own homelessness
problem. There will be also a move to increase "right to
buy" levels, thus reducing housing stock within this region
and continuing to promote what you call voluntary purchase schemes,
which, if housing stock is not being replaced, at the current
rate then it will disperse rapidly. I think the previous year
700 units were sold through "right to buy" legislation.
That's the equivalent to 2 very large housing estates. Eileen
is going to say something about the current legislation.
Eileen Best - The current legislation is covered by what
is known as the 1988 Homeless Persons (Northern Ireland) Order.
Under this legislation when it was introduced, it gives responsibility
to the Housing Executive to house certain groups of homeless people.
Under the legislation there are strict priority need categories
including women who are pregnant, those with dependants, those
who are vulnerable as a result of age, disability etc., those
at risk of violence or sexual or financial exploitation. However,
there is particular discrimination within this framework, excluding
the vast majority of those finding themselves homeless. For example,
young single, able-bodied persons with no fixed abode would be
deemed not to be in priority and would be subject to long term
homelessness. As Housing Adviser, I find it increasingly difficult
to find accommodation for young single people. They mainly have
to resort to the private rented sector, where they often find
that there is high rents and, in many instances, insecure accommodation.
Gerry Coates - I mentioned something called the Housing
Policy Review which will have devastating effects in Northern
Ireland generally, and in the North West, if it is implemented.
There will also be changes to Housing Benefit for people who cannot
afford to buy their own homes and are in a position to have to
claim Housing Benefit. Changes to Housing Benefit will only compound
and contribute to the current homelessness problem. Housing Benefit
to single tenants under 25 years of age will be limited to the
average costs of non-self contained accommodation in the locality.
This mean Housing Benefit for the under 25's will be reduced to
the equivalent of single room to rent, which will be fixed by
a local rent officer. The future prognosis for single homeless
people in housing need is bleak. The current legislation affords
little hope in accessing meaningful housing quite often in the
private sector, experiencing discrimination. For example you will
see in the local press "No DHSS. Professionals only."
I'd like to also point out about the demographics of the city
and the future need. Derry City is a city of young people. These
people will come of age and will make demands on the public sector
housing movement. For many people in Northern Ireland public sector
housing is the only viable housing option available. With increased
demands and high levels of unemployment, this will only lead to
people becoming more marginalised in regards to housing. Housing
policy should take in what homelessness means as a definition
and this is the definition that we do have here:
A homeless person has been described as someone who does not
live in a place where individuals and families can be themselves
for better or worse, can obtain peace and security and can
flourish both mentally and physically. It should be an effective
base for family life, providing relaxation and the strength to
participate in our highly pressurised and competitive society.
I would argue that it is a basic human right to have a place to
live which is affordable, safe and secure. The tragedy of homelessness
is one of a daily occurrence within our city for which we should
be working to eradicate by providing secure platforms enabling
the excluded to be included. Thank you.
Response from the panel to Gerry Coates and Eileen Best
Christine Bell - You talked a bit about young single
people and about the demographics of the city and I wondered if
you could have given us an idea as to what age group people are
Gerry Coates - Well, if we just look at the demographics
of the city, 56% are below the age of 30 and 30% are below the
age of 16. Those, as I said, those people are coming of age intending
to make demands on public sector housing. Unfortunately, the rate
of housing is diminishing rapidly and by virtue of that the demand
is going to be greater. We dealt with 2000 enquiries last year
of which 62% were below the age of 25.
Christine Bell - And would there be many people under
the age of 18 considered homeless at the minute?
Eileen Best - At the present time we do have some people
under the age of 18 considered homeless. They are mainly coming
out of children's institutions at this moment in time. But we
have single people who would approach our organisation on a direct
access basis who are suffering family break down, just break down
from within the family for one reason or another.
Gerry Coates - The largest cause of homelessness, the
two major causes, one is marital breakdown, as it is said, and
also family break down, which would be the main cause of homelessness
within the city at the moment.
Christine Bell - And I also wondered, do we have written
materials from you here?
Gerry Coates - I have just my written submission, but
we can give you written information.
Christine Bell - Well it was really, I think the definition
that you gave at the end, although it was specific to homelessness,
in many ways it seemed to me to sum up what a lot of the, you
know a kind of definition for what minorities of different types
would be wanting to achieve in terms of their ability to express
themselves and live a family life that is their choice of family
life. I thought that was a really interesting definition and something
that would be, you know, worth exploring as how it applies to
different minority groups so it would be good if at least that,
if we could have that.
Patrick Yu - I have a question in relation to the housing
stock or housing provision. Has the Housing Executive some kind
of special accommodation for the single people? Like I know that
we have a lot of sheltered housing for this age of people. But
do they build any special accommodation for the young people,
like a youth hostel or?
Gerry Coates - There's two areas which the Housing Executive
are tied by legislation and controlled by Government as by legislation.
The Housing Executive will only provide accommodation to people
who are in priority to be housed as deemed by the legislation,
and temporary accommodation will be provided. Here is no particular
duty under the legislation to provide for people who are not in
priority, which seems to be the largest group presenting, that
would be single people. However, the housing Executive have, and
have supported, voluntary sector agencies to supply that temporary
accommodation facility, which is highly expensive. We would argue
that to resolve it is to stop reducing the housing stock, build
more houses, invest in housing, look at the future demands of
the new type of tenant, a mixed culture of housing within the
city, a variety of tenure types, so that people can be integrated
and live together instead of people becoming highly ... and constantly
needing to live in hostel life as opposed to living a real life.
Patrick Yu - The reason I raised the question was because
the issue is just like the chicken and the egg because if you
don't have single people accommodation then those young people
will not fall into the ......... Because the Housing Executive,
they build the houses more on the family home basis. But they
build a very small amount of single people accommodation.
Gerry Coates - Only 10% of the housing stock in Northern
Ireland would be for single people. What we would argue is that
the demographics are now demanding that housing stock should represent
the populace as such and represent the demand that has been made.
Yes, houses are very important to single parent families but also
single people as well. We would argue they are all important and
that they should be represented, through legislation, and through
social policy, the kind of quality housing that people want. And
people should be consulted on that to find our their points of
view, in terms of what kind of houses that they would like to
live in for the future.
Written submission in braille read by Sally Morrison and William
Mc Morris of THE NORTH WEST VISUALLY IMPAIRED ASSOCIATION
Supermarket and other shops should provide improved layouts
in store to assist the visually impaired e.g. Products placed
or provide a member of staff to guide and assist visually impaired
Visually impaired people experience barriers to social inclusion
as a direct result of poor transport provision. All groups/agencies
within the city should consider, when planning services and or
events, how transport can be provided to the visually impaired.
3. Public Transport
Public transport vehicles should be more accessible e.g. steps
are too high.
4. Public Information
All public information should be available in suitable format,
current campaigns should address this immediately i.e. "Vision
for the City" and fluoridation consultations e.g. braille
and large print audio tape.
Cheque books should be in larger print for partially sighted customers.
Information on back of prescriptions cannot be read by visually
impaired people. The section for signing should be made larger.
7. Traffic Lights
Appropriate signalling should be provided at all traffic light
junctions to enable visually impaired and blind people to use
the junction safely. It should be remembered that many visually
impaired people also have a hearing impairment.
8. Public Highway / Footpaths
Public highways, footpaths should be kept free from obstruction.
Shop owners should be prohibited from planning signage etc. on
Motorists should be prohibited from parking on footpaths. Where
laws exist they should be enforced.
Response from the panel to the submission from Sally Morrison
and William McMorris
Patrick Yu - I have a question on the transport. I come
from Hong Kong, in my experience of Hong Kong we try to encourage
those disability people to take the transport. We create a kind
of voucher system to encourage the people to take a taxi or other
transport by paying free or at a very low rate of subsidy. I don't
know whether this can be helpful to the situation here so that
you are more accessible to other ......or to other social inclusion
or social life in your situation.
Mary Mulholland - One, on the public transport, has
there been any consultation with your own group on the 10, -no
I think it's actually less than 10- of the new wheelchair accessible
buses that are coming into Derry this year as part of the package
that Ulsterbus are buying? Has there been any consultation regarding
the colour contrast and so forth, with your own group and any
other impaired group in the city?
Reply - No I don't think so, no.
Mary Mulholland - I'll give you the name of the contact
person to deal with that. And the other one, with regard signage,
I presume by this you are meaning the "A" boards that,
I know the problems these cause. My husband himself had a problem
yesterday in Coleraine. We have piping along the road at the moment
and I as a wheelchair user can see that and he just physically
picked up the board and carried it into the shop. Now it's easy
enough for me to see and I am sure they don't only encroach what
they say is their own area I believe anymore, I believe they encroach
further and further out as each day goes past, making it much
more harder. I think that's all I would like to say, Christine.
Christine Bell - I suppose I would like to just comment
on the submission that you know, I think it was 10 points, are
very practical but through those points what struck me was very
much the image of the world and of the life we live from your
perspective and how much you begin to see that everything from
the shops down to cheque books are really structured around a
certain set of assumptions that often don't apply and that was
really very interesting. Thank you very much.
Written submission produced by Sean Morrin and Malachy Kyle
and read by Malachy Kyle from Rainbow Trust
HIV/AIDS IN THE NORTH WEST IS A REALITY TODAY
The aim of Rainbow Project is to,
EDUCATE GAY AND BISEXUAL MEN ON MATTERS OF SEXUAL HEALTH IN AN
ATTEMPT TO STOP THE SPREAD OF HIV THROUGHOUT OUR COMMUNITY IN
Gay and bisexual people suffer from discrimination on a daily
basis and in every aspect of their lives. Whether it be in social,
political, religious or cultural spheres, they are denied equality
of rights and opportunities particularly in employment and education.
One of the biggest prejudices that gay and bisexual men suffer
from is the stigma that HIV/ AIDS and homosexuality go hand and
glove. This of course is a myth, however the stigma is a real
situation for gay and bisexual men and discrimination is a fact
of life in the North West.
People who are living with HIV/AIDS and their families, are well
aware of the prejudices that may occur after it becoming public
knowledge. We are aware of families who have decided to say their
sons have died from other illnesses such as cancer as opposed
to an AIDS related illness. We know of situations where people
have been diagnosed in other countries and have decided to remain
there for the duration of the illness.
As a result of this, families and friends of gay or bisexual men
are living with HIV or AIDS or who have died from an AIDS related
illness have not been given the opportunities that others may
have been given, to come to terms or to grieve in a dignified
As members of a minority group, we endeavour to educate people
that the HIV virus is not unique to us. Indeed recent statistics
show that 40% of people tested and known to be infected by the
virus in N. Ireland are not gay or bisexual.
People living with HIV/ AIDS in the North West have issues that
need to be addressed in a constructive manner. These people need
to feel safe about talking about their illness without fear, prejudices
and discrimination in their workplace, in their local communities,
and indeed in their everyday lives.
Education of the general community is of vital importance. A number
of organisations in the North West do attempt to do this. However,
resources are limited and it appears money available from the
Government has dwindled in recent years for education and research
into this virus.
Responsibility for education should not only be with these organisations
but with every person in our community. We should all share rights
and responsibilities. People should be made aware that this virus
is with us in the North West and transmission is a real possibility.
People still believe condoms are only to avoid pregnancy. Avoiding
pregnancies is of course of immense importance, however sexually
transmitted diseases and HIV are still being transmitted.
As well as education, prevention work is of extreme importance.
The Rainbow Project's target group is the gay and bisexual community.
We target social venues where this group of people meet and offer
outreach work with safer sex packs and information around HIV/AIDS/Safer
Sex and other sexually transmitted diseases. Other projects include
a referral point for other services and workshops around sexual
So far other organisations have been very supportive to the kind
of work we do. This again is of vital importance and necessary
to meet the needs of our service users.
We will continue with our aims and to have the knowledge that
we may save a life will keep us striding towards our goal.
Proper resources to enable the continuation and expansion of education
at home, school, social venues and the workplace.
Research into the effects HIV/AIDS have on people affected in
the North West. This could possibly include a forum whereby family
and carers of people living with HIV/AIDS or who may have experienced
a loss due to an AIDS related illness can come together and share
Certain institutions would need to waver the line they have adopted
regarding the spread of HIV/AIDS virus.
Funding should be made available for research into safe sexual
practices in the wider community.
More networking with statutory, voluntary, community and other
minority groups who share the same aims and objectives on prevention,
education and research into the HIV virus.
For further information, please contact
The Rainbow Project N. Ireland
56-58 Strand Road
Derry BT48 7AJ
Response of the panel
Patrick Yu - I would like to ask you more about the
kind of prejudice of HIV people, can you tell us more about what
kind of prejudice, how...?
Malachy Kyle - What a lot of people experience at the
minute is, first of all, within the last 10 years we have been
informed of at least 9 to 10 people within the North West area
who have died in London. They will not come home for fear of the
stigma, first of all, that HIV attracts. Secondly, we mentioned
about quite a few of these people being gay, right. Up until the
last few years in Derry, it was you know, it wasn't accepted that
you be gay. I myself have worked with people who have actually
died from AIDS related illnesses and I've experienced whereby
these people, even walking along the street, the ignorance there
you know where people be; "hello" but they don't touch
you know and, people would "well what about ye?"
and you see the fear in peoples faces you know and it's just that,
to me it's ignorance. Within the health service what I do have
to say is the health service are learning in the Derry area, and
I have to give them credit in the last year for what they have
done, but they are still learning. There was situations whereby
people were dying, one particular guy was lying in Altnagelvin
Hospital and some of the nursing staff would not attend him. They
actually asked to be removed you know, from having to attend him.
They wouldn't touch him. Ambulance staff that were actually about
to lift, they were using gloves and at one stage were wearing
masks. Now, this is our health service here, some of the people
from within the health service you know. So, these are the things
that are surrounding HIV and Aids today, you know, in the North
Christine Bell - One of your recommendations was about
certain institutions wavering the line. Could you expand on that
Malachy Kyle - What we were actually directing that
towards was the church authorities of today. First of all, it
is a sin within the eyes of the Catholic church to be gay, well
not to actually be gay, but don't practice homosexual acts, you
know. And then it's the abomination, you know, when you contract
HIV or, you know, AIDS. And what we are trying to say is we believe,
not just the Catholic church, other churches, would need to sit
down and rethink their policy and their strategy and to provide
some kind of situation whereby, you know, you can go in and people
can experience and enjoy a lifestyle whereby the church would
be included you know.
Written submission from a Lesbian/Bisexual perspective
Produced by Helen Quigley, read by Dave Duggan
Living in Derry as a woman is pretty scary most of the time. Living
in Derry as a Lesbian/ Bisexual woman is scarier still. The Gay
Community does its best to provide support and understanding for
those of us in same sex relationships, but the wider community
does little, in the way of showing basic respect or tolerance.
The Cease-fire, such as it was, gave us all the impression that
tolerance of others, irrespective of class, creed or indeed gender
would be on everybodies agenda. That to live in peace in Northern
Ireland we would first need to be at peace with our neighbours,
family and friends. The increase in gay bashings in the past 12
months has shown the opposite to be true. Instead of carrying
out attacks on someone because they go to a different church,
or support a different political party, our young citizens took
to bashing people because of their sexual preference. These attacks
don't arouse anger or fury from the general public, because homosexuals
are not treated as ordinary members of society anyway. We are
already marginalised, pitied and even despised in some quarters.
My hopes for the near future would be that some kind of homophobia
training takes place, within the police force, civil service,
health authorities and education authority, amongst the staff
who would come into contact with gay people everyday in their
jobs. This would help increase their awareness of the gay community,
and in turn educate the general public and inform them that we
exist in all walks of life. The secrecy around homosexuality has
been forced onto us. We cannot show affection to our partners
in public for fear of being attacked verbally or physically, and
sometimes the fear of coming out can lead to suicide or mental
health problems. Somehow the citizens of Derry have to be made
aware that they live alongside gay people, and that we deserve
the respect that they give others. They should be outraged when
we are attacked, to the same degree as they are outraged when
old people are abused in their homes or when people are beaten
up outside pubs.
Security, ie: a community police force should be introduced into
the city to discourage thuggish behaviour by the more violent
and insecure members of the public who, for reasons best known
to themselves like nothing more on a Saturday night than to beat
up the local gay person and throw bricks through his/her windows.
These kind of attacks have to be taken seriously and not brushed
under carpets, because that won't make them or us go away.
Response of the panel
Christine Bell - I mean just to comment on the submission.
One of the things that was raised at the start was the question
of people who weren't here would have made submissions and I mean
that submission is interesting, does bring many questions to mind
and I think it is a significant thing that you know, the fear
that is talked about in the submission means that these things
can't be addressed often you know, as effectively. And that's
something that has to be borne in mind by people seeking to change
things in relation to this area.
Written Submission from North West Forum of People with Disabilities
read by Patricia Bray
The World Health Organisation states that during your adult life
you have a 98% chance of having some form of disability, be it
temporary or permanent e.g. broken leg or spell in hospital. The
Public Policy Research Unit states that in Northern Ireland there
are 201,000 disabled people i.e. 1 in 6 people in Northern Ireland
have a disability. This is a large percentage of the population,
yet there are many areas where people with disabilities are socially
excluded e.g. 1. Employment: in Northern Ireland disabled people
are 5 times more likely to be unemployed and when employed it
is usually in a low paid job, have poorer promotion prospects
and working conditions than non disabled people. 2. Access to
the built environment - how many buildings are accessible for
sport and leisure, and entertainment e.g. How many pubs in Derry
are accessible? 3. Access to information is another very important
area. Are all meetings provided with a loop system or interpreter?
People can't attend and therefore can't access the information
they need to make an informed decision. Other areas of social
exclusion are housing, education, transport, in other words every
aspect of daily life. The North West Forum of People With Disabilities
1. The Department of Environment improve access to the built environment
and provide a public transport system for all citizens.
2. Derry City Council review their service provision e.g. sport
and leisure amenities.
3. Western Education and Library Board provide inclusive education
4. Western Health and Social Services Board improve their service
to people with disabilities. e.g. Shorten the time span on Occupational Therapist
waiting lists for aids and equipment and to provide services locally
so people with disabilities do not have to travel to Belfast for
5. Training and Employment Agency should ensure that people with
disabilities are not discriminated against in employment. Also
T&EA should provide services to assist people with disabilities
to compete equally on the open labour market.
6. The Department of Health And Social Services should provide
their information in a manner that's accessible to all i.e. large
print, audio cassette, computer disk, braille, video tape for
deaf people, appropriate language for people with learning disabilities.
They should also promote their services to everyone.
7. Northern Ireland Housing Executive should provide more inclusive
accessible housing for people with disabilities.
Response of the panel
Mary Mulholland - Patricia, do you think that the new Disability
Discrimination Act will do anything to enhance the lives of the
Patricia Bray - No, I don't. I think it has got some
provisions within it and it has got recognition from the government
to decide to do something. But without a commission, as for the
equal opportunity and the fair employment , it is nothing. It
has no powers enforcement at all.
Mary Mulholland - And the other thing is how do you
feel about, maybe I know I've seen areas of bad house keeping
in Northern Ireland Housing Executive stock, where a disabled
person might move out of a house and it is then, all the adaptions
are pulled out and it is put back into main stream stock, when
it should be kept.
Patricia Bray - It should be kept, it should be. I mean
it is so obvious that it should be kept because they are away
adapting somewhere else or partially. Of course it should be kept.
Christine Bell - Just, you know, an observation, the
statistics that you gave at the beginning were really interesting
and what it was suggesting to me was, I mean, we have the title
of minorities and clearly there's a whole politics around, you
know, what term that we use. But I mean, what you were really
suggesting and I think it's come through from a lot of the presentation
is that it is not a minority at all. It is something...
Patricia Bray - It is not a minority at all, that is
correct. There would be only a minority of people out speaking
on behalf of people with disabilities and this should not be.
It should be people with disabilities should be out there speaking
for themselves, you know.
Submission from Ken Rooney, Fountain Area Partnership written
on the day
My name is Ken Rooney and I am the Co-ordinator of the Fountain
Area Partnership, an inner city urban regeneration programme.
May I first of all mention my appreciation of being allowed to
speak at this public hearing. Secondly, many will say why am I
speaking at this hearing for minority groups when Protestants
are in the majority in N.l.? I will respond by saying that the
people of the Fountain are in the minority on the West Bank of this city.
I represent the people of the Fountain in this city. At present
there are only about 450 Protestants left in this area. According
to the 1991 Census there are only some 1400 Protestants on the
West Bank. Population on the West Bank is about 55,000 i.e. Iess
than 1% of the people on this side of the water.
Dr. A.M. Siddiqui stated that he has had no problem practicing
his faith in the city or living in it. I am glad for him and others
who are welcomed in the city. However, the same cannot be said
for the people of the Fountain.
Since the outbreak of the Troubles in 1969 the people of The Fountain
have experienced persistent violations of their human and civil
right to live in a part of this city which they have an innate
right to coexist alongside all groups within the city. Some will
say that the Unionist led governments of the past exploited Nationalists
in many areas of N.I., therefore if Protestants have been or are
now being treated adversely, that they either deserve it or it
will do them good to experience the effects of injustice which
was doled out to Catholics in the past.
I would suggest that such logic is perverse and does nothing to
advance the process whereby we can one day live along side one
another in harmony. Many of our older citizens can still vividly
remember the days when this was the case and when there was respect
for differing traditions.
Working in this environment one sees similar areas to the Fountain
in other areas of N.I. both Protestant and Catholic, so our problems
within this city are not unique. So why do these situations arise?
And what can be done to redress the disadvantages and injustices
suffered by the area and its people?
A recent campaign of support to welcome people back to the Fountain
was a heartening first step to redress the imbalances of the past
and present. However, the 1500 perceived nationalists who supported
the campaign are not the people who are perceived as a threat
by the people of the area.
Until more hard line Nationalists in neighbouring working class
estates accept that the people of the Fountain and other Protestants
in the city have an innate right to live in the cityside in peace,
then the problems of the past will continue into the future. After
all, had it not been for the activities of a well known small
group of Protestants over 300 years ago, then this city would
not be reaping the economic benefits of its historic past.
This point came to a high point on 12th August 1995 with severe
opposition to the rights of Protestants to march peacefully in
the city, when only 3 days later the AOH marched through the city
with no opposition.
I would also like to address the statutory agencies present in
that in our regeneration strategy, which will be published shortly,
our projects which are relatively small and all in all will probably
be available elsewhere in the city within walking distance. However
the people who wish to use these facilities are not comfortable
in walking to places where such services are available i.e. community
centres, sports complexes, Adult Learning Centres as they are
in Nationalist areas, i.e. the post office incident, whereby two
women residents were jostled and informed that they had no right
to be here on this side of the river.
Therefore, funding for projects which come before them in the
near future should be addressed with a sympathetic view to this
problem and decisions about a schemes viability not be based on
a "bums on seats" basis.
Finally, I hope this has not been viewed as a party political
submission, as it is not intended to be. Rather it be viewed as
an address by a section of our community who wish to be socially
included into plans for this city in the future.
Patrick Yu - I have two questions. Firstly, I would
like to know about the unemployment rate in your area.
Ken Rooney - It's 65% for the actual area.
Patrick Yu - Second question is can you tell me what
kind of basic facility is in your area, this is public facility?
Ken Rooney - Well I just address social facilities here.
For instance, there isn't one person in the area, one child in
grammar school education. So, and a lot of the parents aren't
even able to supervise primary 6 and primary 7 homeworks, so however,
that's filtering down through the system. So it's re-training,
adult education, child-care provision and parenting skills, all
those types of things by, you'd only get 8 - 12 people wanting
to attend them and to make that financially viable is an impossibility.
So therefore, in the past they have never had it, but they do
Christine Bell - I mean, I don't have any questions.
It is interesting and I suppose again, what you are calling a
minority too that's an interesting analysis and I think it was
great that you...
Ken Rooney - That's why I wasn't going to give a submission
initially, but then it was after I came in....
Christine Bell - Well I'm glad that you did because
in many ways some of the areas you are talking about and some
of the difficult questions as regards accommodation and conflict
that you're raising have been raised throughout the morning. It's
just maybe that we haven't, we don't always maybe expect to perceive
these sort of problems in the area you are raising. And we don't
even see the problems in some of the other areas and I think it's
quite good to take them across the board.
Ken Rooney - The thing about perception too, the social
problems we experience are exactly the same social problems that
are experienced in the Bogside or the Creggan or wherever. It's
just this welcoming aspect that they have a problem with, that
they don't feel wanted here. That's the main difference.
Christine Bell - Although that again is something that
has been very much a theme of earlier submissions too, you know,
from very different perspectives. So I think there's a lot of
food for thought on that. And again coming back to how we think
of what are minorities and majorities and how do we treat people
that we perceive as different from us from wherever we are standing.
So it's very much at the heart of the issues that are being looked
at here. Thank you.
Written submission from a young Protestant woman - living in
a majority Catholic city, read by Dave Duggan.
"The experience of being a Protestant minority in a majority
1. For my parents and family the fact that they never get to call
the city of Londonderry by the term they find acceptable is a
constant annoyance to them and they feel that their identity
is being insulted and undermined. When they do, they get shouted
at and abused with things like, it's not Londonderry it's Derry.
2. The fact that Nationalist flags are flying in the area and
there is no consideration for the viewpoint of a different tradition.
3. Even when we go to football matches to support our local team
the fact that the Irish flag of green white and orange is constantly
being waved causes upset. We do not see what the flag of the Irish
Republic has to do with the game of football.
4. Being afraid in your home for your personal safety especially
at periods of heightened inter communal tension in the city which
has been renewed again with the end of the IRA cease-fire.
5. When you have visitors, that fact that neighbours call you
names e.g. Jaffa, Protestant slag, Why don't you go back to England,
etc. makes you scared and embarrassed for visitors to your home.
These people may not be of the same religion but are targeted
because of their association with a Protestant in a majority Catholic
6. Having to be careful of where you go, when you go and who you
go with is a constant fear, e.g. nightclub. Told things like you
shouldn't be here, this is the Westbank. You shouldn't be here
in this nightclub. Having your life threatened in a Nightclub
and knowing you belong to the minority community in the Westbank
and know that no-one will stand up for you in this environment.
7. Having people throwing stones at your windows because of what
you are i.e. Protestant living in the West Bank.
8. Having eggs thrown at you when you walk down the road and constantly
being called names (type already mentioned above).
Things wanted changed with this city
1. Recognition that the city is called Londonderry as well as
2. The right to be able to walk the streets without being called
3. The right to go to nightclubs without fear of retaliation because
of my religion.
4. For people in this society to recognise that Protestants are
no different to them, as we don't consider them any different
5. To be able to live at home with my family without fear that
one day there will be a knock at the door and something bad will
happen due to our religious beliefs.
6. To generally be able to live in peace and to be able to go
anywhere we want to without being harassed or threatened and constantly
looking over your shoulder to see who's behind you and what they're
doing because you're so scared every day of your life.
Response of the panel
Christine Bell - Again I think that there are interesting
parallels between that and the other submission which Dave read
where the person didn't feel able to read it themselves, and the
theme of fear that underlined both those submissions is remarkably
similar although the reasons for the fear are very different.
I think the last two submissions may be touching on, if you like,
political territory, what we perceive as political being in the
news, in ways maybe immediately raise more controversy for us.
But the controversy in that is something that I feel very strongly
that we shouldn't be scared of and scared of addressing in that
at the heart of all these issues which are really about how we
deal with difference, there are very personal things at stake
and very, very difficult issues to be resolved. You know, and
people beginning to have a voice around what those are, is certainly
the start of dealing with them.
Written submission read by Mrs. Elizabeth Ward on behalf of
I would like to thank you for the opportunity provided by
Templegrove Action Research to highlight the difficulties associated
with hearing impairment.
As introduced I am Elizabeth Ward, Northern Ireland's representative
for Hearing Concern and I'm a lip reading tutor. I trained as
a lip-reading tutor in 1990 in recognition of the lack of professional
help needed by this minority group - the hard of hearing.
I could quote various statistics, but in the Western Board's Area,
which stretches from Enniskillen to Limavady, there are over 40,000
adults with varying degrees of loss of hearing.
Hard of hearing people have the same aspirations, interests and
abilities as their hearing counterparts. They are most definitely
discriminated against especially in places of education, work
places, socially and within the family. They are declared stupid
and consideration is rarely bestowed on them in places of worship,
work, leisure or hospitals. They are isolated and withdrawn in
Raising an awareness is essential and some suggestions I would
suggest is graphic advertising, loop-systems in public places
and more appropriate professional help sought, and existing professionals
used appropriately and with wider financial structure.
The majority in the hearing world would need regular reminding
of what is expected of them - better communication skills used
regularly, more funding as highlighted and an understanding of
the varying degrees of this invisible disability - the majority
must also recognise the difference between deafness and a hearing
loss and take note of that difference.
The hard of hearing have completely different needs and it's of
the utmost importance these needs are addressed separately. Indeed,
many deaf people do not understand the plight of the hard of hearing.
I therefore beseech you to consider most seriously the information
I have delivered to you this afternoon and if there are areas
of confusion, of which I am sure there will be, then please do
not hesitate to contact me.
In conclusion, I, too, am severely hearing impaired - I need good
hearing aids working at all times, need a good lip speaking facility,
need loop in public places especially the railway station and
other public transport outlets, church etc., bank, cinema. You
may well think I manage very well - remember most people are not
as fortunate as I am - most do not have their own transport therefore
are missing out on the benefits of meeting other hearing impaired
people. Most do not have my educational background and most do
not have my confidence.
Response of the panel
Mary Mulholland - Just one question actually Elizabeth,
how easy would it be for somebody who has no connection with anybody
hearing impaired to find out about sign language classes or lip
reading classes or anything in that field?
Elizabeth Ward - So the question is how would people
find out about these things? Well I obviously am the source of
information for lip reading classes because I don't work with
deaf people. I can't answer about sign language classes because
they would primarily probably be more deaf people or people who
are going to work with the deaf. The Sensory Support in Bishop
Street should have information. The local libraries should have
information and all the places whereby people would go to find
out, Citizens Advice Bureau etc., all areas open to the public,
they should have this sort of information.
Christine Bell - Maybe you also could explain more the
difference between, you know, your own needs for lip reading as
opposed to sign language and needs of deaf people.
Elizabeth Ward - Well the difference is, I have an acquired
hearing loss and most adults that I work with have an acquired
hearing loss. In other words they have been born with hearing
or some degree of hearing, and along the line they have lost it.
So they have speech and a memory of sound and it is that memory
of speech and sound that we work on. We keep them in the hearing
community because that's what they are. They are hearing people,
but it has been damaged. And if I could just explain to the audience,
it's a bit like your television set that is in a situation where
it is going on and off and on and off, it's terribly annoying
and when that happens all the time, which it does to a hard of
hearing person. For example this lady on the left is sitting with
her back to the light and therefore her face is in shadow and
I'm having difficulty just in that situation. So these are grave
disadvantages to someone who is hard of hearing. But if the situation
is right and the person who is sitting opposite to me knows that
you have a hearing loss or speaks clearly and doesn't cover their
mouth etc. then it's not too great a difficulty. Obviously I can't
lip read in the dark so that's a grave disadvantage and, like
I said, if someone is covering their mouth or they're more than
6 foot away from me, I would have great difficulty communicating
and that is why I say in a railway station or an airport or whatever,
because the tannoy system, I've only got the hearing aids to pick
up what is going on. I haven't got a face to back up that information.
So lip reading is essential for someone who is hard of hearing
because it's not everyone that needs a hearing aid. If it's a
slight hearing loss, they don't need a hearing aid. Just the difference
is, it keeps them in the community and a hard of hearing person
can go to the post office and pick up their own pension or go
to the supermarket etc. if they've got lip reading skills. But
most importantly of all, if they have the confidence to go, and
lots of them are very, very withdrawn, and that's why they need
classes and they need other meeting places where there are hard
of hearing people to give them the support.
Closing remarks for morning session
Marie Smyth of Templegrove Action Research
For those of you who weren't here earlier, my name is Marie Smyth,
Director of Templegrove Action Research and I would just like
to echo what Elizabeth has just said in relation to acquiring
facilities for deaf and hard of hearing people and I would like
to tell you the story of Gloria here who is signing. We were committed
to providing signing and a loop system here today and the difficulty
that we had in finding a signer to be here was enormous. We were
going to have to fly someone in from Dublin and pay quite a substantial
fee until we very happily met with Gloria and we are very glad
that she is with us here today. But just to say that even when
an organisation such as our own is committed to providing the
resources, it is extremely difficult to get them locally here
in the city, and, in fact, Gloria isn't from the city, she's from
outside the city. Similarly the point was mentioned over here,
the Sensory Support Service, the point was made that the deaf
and hard of hearing people don't necessarily know that the Sensory
Support Service means support for them. So I think there are enormous
problems about accessing these services, even when they are here
and what we found out was, in fact, that they are not here.
I would like to conclude this morning by thanking all the people
who have come up here to the front and spoken, and all of the
people who have written submissions, which were read out by Dave
this morning. I think we are delighted that people have been able
to come forward.
We've heard from a wide range of interest groups and individuals
from disablement, sensory impairment, learning difficulties, from
the Rainbow Project about HIV and Aids, from again Lesbian perspective
and so on and we are very pleased. We will be incorporating those
submissions into our published report. And can we just wind up
this morning by thanking you, by reminding you that we are re-convening
at 2 o'clock. You are all very welcome to come back and we would
encourage you to do so. The tea and the coffee and the excellent
biscuits will also be there this afternoon. Can I also thank our
official observers here to my right who have sat patiently through
the morning and particular thanks to the panel. The panel will
re-convene at 2 o'clock and you will hear they will not only be
digesting their lunch over lunchtime, they will also be digesting
this morning's session. So we will open this afternoon by allowing some time for comments from the panel
and they will be feeding back to you what their impressions are
so far, and then will proceed with the submissions for the afternoon.
Thank you all very much and we look forward to seeing you again
at 2 o'clock.
Opening remarks afternoon session
Mary Mulholland - Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I've just a few things to say. One thing that comes across very
strongly is that discrimination is still very much around. And
even though all groups may find that it comes at them differently,
in all shapes and forms, and speaking generally on the disability
side, which is my own field and which I know probably more about
than anything else, that each of these cases, the stance of discrimination
at all levels, housing, social services, schooling and transport
and I hope if nothing else comes from this meeting today, that
we can all liaise with each other and try and find a way around
our problems because even though they might be different, there's
still a basic route. We can all find a common cause to deal with
these problems and maybe increase our networking powers about
how we go about finding information and passing them on. I'd just
like to hand back to Christine.
Patrick Yu - Good afternoon, everyone. I will just try
to make a few points. Firstly, this public hearing is a dialogue
to draw the public's attention to the problems faced by different
minority groups in Derry. So this morning we heard the submissions
from the groups like ethnic minority, learning difficulty, homeless,
vision impaired, political minority groups, Lesbian/gay and Bi-sexual
group, disability and deaf group as well. And as you are aware
from this morning those problems that arose from different groups
are similar. They are some kind of discrimination against each
group but manifest in different forms and/or on different situation.
And this public hearing is very important because it also provides
a support. As you are aware, each group's problem and their struggle
is not alone. We must build on a broader alliance, try to combat
this discrimination. In order to combat this discrimination as
I hear this morning, there must be some kind of policy or a list
at the policy end of the legislative level in particular regarding
resources allocation to meet the specific needs of each minority
group. This is my general comment for this mornings session. Thank
Christine Bell - I just I suppose wanted to address the
different thoughts on hearing the presentations. And I think one
of the things, although we've been hearing a lot about discrimination
and people's very bad experiences of life in the city, in a funny
way, I've found it a very positive thing being here today and
I have a great sense of hope out of hearing the submissions this
morning. And part of it is that through the submissions and people
giving their different pictures of the world, I think you get
a glimpse of what society could be like and what an inclusive
society would mean. And often when you have meetings, you focus
on one type of exclusion or inclusion and, you know, worry away
at that and I know coming from a Human Rights field, often you
are looking at divisions along a Unionist/Nationalist line and
that again is often, sort of, media perspective on division but
I think what we are looking at today is a very broad thing. And
to me that gives me a sense of hope because, really, if we are
talking about rights and people's rights and the sort of society
that we want, we need to start looking at who is doing the talking,
why are they talking, and are they being given a space to talk.
So I felt a very positive feeling in being here and particularly
maybe even in the context where we have had a whole media thing
about cease-fires and break down of cease-fires, and yet feeling
that there is a whole other agenda. And it is here in this room,
many other agendas that need addressed and they need addressed
before we can have, any of us can have, you know, peace in a very
personal sense, and participation in a personal sense.
So, I mean, I would like to thank Templegrove Action Research
for involving me in this and also for this opportunity because
it is essentially an exciting thing and the other thing I
wanted to just say was probably striking for everybody here, has
been how they've had their own assumptions challenged. I know
I've realised how ignorant I am of so many different things of
how people's disabilities do affect them, of how excluded people
feel, of their fears, all those different things. I think there's
been things in every presentation that has made me think a different
way and made me challenge my own thoughts and the way I see things.
And one thing that strikes me is how much whenever, how much there
are different languages for talking about things, and often the
main language is that people who are different, that first of
all that they're not, people themselves aren't defining their
difference. Whereas in the room this morning has been very much
about people themselves, -very positively- labelling themselves.
Because when other people label you it's often to say that you
are worse somehow. Often there's two things, there's a normal
and an abnormal and the abnormal itself connotes something worse
than the normal. And I think a lot of the people have been coming
forward and have been saying, "what I experience is legitimate
and this is the way I experience it. Not the way you experience
it or ignore it or deal with it." And I think that's very
subversive in a powerful way and that's why it's important that
people speak and if they don't feel able to speak here now, it
has been important that there at least has been a mechanism for
them to have their statement read out and in that sense I feel
it has been worthwhile because we have to be able to change the
language, you know, to change the way things are. Thanks.
Written submission by Pauline Collins, Ellen Weaver, John Nelis
& Barney Devine:
From a Secular Perspective; read by Pauline
First of all we would like to take this opportunity to thank Templegrove
Action Research for creating the space to enable minority groups
to be heard. We very much feel as if we don't exist in this society
which seeks to silence minority groups such as ours.
We refer to those of us who do not subscribe to any religious
belief, calling for the separation of religion and civil authority
and legislative initiatives as a positive step towards a more
In a supposedly Christian dominated culture, there are many assumptions
made, which inevitably neglects the respect of other beliefs,
Christians claiming exclusive credit for morality, failing to
recognise ethical, moral principals as distinct from religion.
We have morals and moral obligations to the communities in which
we live and society as a whole. We have the utmost respect for
humankind and the values and beliefs of all who embrace diversity,
equality and anti-discrimination locally, nationally and globally.
Within this supposedly Christian culture prevails an arrogant
imposition of Christianity as the belief of all, presuming that
we are non-practicing rather than humanists/atheists/secularists
through informed choice, having chosen not to follow the religious
beliefs of our parents.
We see such attitudes heighten at times of celebration e.g. Christmas/winter
solstice, births, deaths, rites of passage into adulthood and
marriage. The church has taken over these ancient, natural social
events which go back to pre-christian times. We reserve the right
to rituals and celebrations, but feel this increasingly difficult
because of Christian interpretation.
In a country where religion carries such importance and significance
rare in Western society, the church has not attempted to embrace
humanism. Religion should not have the powerful social influence
it has on society. Clergy here should not be permitted to exercise
such authority which their counterparts in other societies could
not aspire to.
The church has influenced politics and other major social institutions
for generations, the family a prime example. People have been
persecuted because of pronouncements from clergy on matters relating
to birth control, divorce, abortion and sexuality, all of which
are private matters for the individuals concerned.
Another is education. Those of us who are teachers by profession
come up against the CCMS, (the Catholic Council for Maintained
Schools), who, whilst claiming to be an equal opportunities employer,
reserve the right to employ only those believers of the Catholic
Those of us who would like our children to be educated through
Irish language schools are also faced with the fact that, in this
city, that too is church controlled and whilst non-Catholics are
not refused entry, they will be made to feel different, excluded,
as the majority of children are prepared for first communion and
other Catholic rituals. And as I'm sure you
can appreciate, being different is very, very difficult for a
child and may have a traumatic effect on them, which no parent
wants to see.
Children should learn to embrace diversity and respect the beliefs
of others. The education system should be the responsibility of
the state and not the church. Children should be encouraged to
integrate naturally and not be labelled and separated according
to the religious beliefs of their families.
Religion and religious belief systems contribute to the social
and political division in society. Faith, any faith, is private
and should be the responsibility of parents. We recommend:
1. an integrated state education system and a return of religion
as a private matter, the responsibility of parents.
2. that individuals, voluntary and state sectors seek to acknowledge
the presence of humanism as a valuable part of communities.
3. that the presumption of "Christianity" be avoided.
4. that facilities for non-religious ceremonies/celebrations be
made available (i.e.) a crematorium.
Written submission from Foyle Friends produced and read by
"Gypsies steal children. Jews eat them. Homosexuals pervert
Myths surround all minorities; the most outrageous slander is
reserved for those who are not only mistrusted, but seen as dangerous.
We need no reminding of the things people say about us; having
had our anger dismissed too often as unjustified, we know that
majorities need constant reminding.
However, we'll let bygones be bygones and talk about the place
that I, as a gay man, would like to live in. It is quite simply
a place where lesbian and gay people are seen, admired, respected
Nothing less will do. I have no doubt that the reason we are not
admired, respected and loved is because we are not seen. Indeed,
the constant struggle for gay and lesbian people is to achieve
visibility. The reality is that lesbian and gay people are denied
a presence in society as surely as if they did not exist at all.
Locally, the decision influencing constituents of our society
be they church, government, media or industry, replicate their
national counterparts by behaving as if ten per cent of the population
never happened. The problem before the lesbian and gay community
in this part of the world, as everywhere else, is that we are
constrained to live in a majority community that is openly hostile
towards us, very often to the point of visceral disgust. It is
a disgust that is learned at a very early age, usually in the
school playground, by all be they straight or gay. To most people,
homosexuality is an unpleasant matter and one which they would
rather not talk about. Most of us would rather not own up to our
sense of disgust either. Consequently, and fortunately for the
majority community, someone thought of a way around the problem.
The solution has come to be known as "the closet" and
it returns me to the theme of visibility.
The politics of the closet run thus; homosexuality may exist,
but it should not be talked about, it should not be seen and it
should not be acknowledged. This closet is a windowless and doorless
place wherein the sense of isolation is complete. It condemns
lesbian and gay people to re-breathe the stale, lifeless air of
their own exile until the point where lives are blighted by loneliness,
fear and meaninglessness. Love is that human emotion that opens
the door to the highest level of happiness that we, as human beings,
can know. It does not come to everyone, be they straight or gay,
but a heterosexual is not denied the chance of love, the chance
to love. The closet takes away that chance from lesbian and gay
people. Everything else follows on from this. Self-esteem collapses,
life becomes purposeless and empty whilst escaping via drugs and
alcohol leads to substance abuse, often accompanied by destructive
sexual behaviour. The closet is the sinister construction of the
heterosexual in every one of us, whether that heterosexual be
real or merely wished for. Fortunately, it lies within the power
of every gay person to destroy it.
The destruction of the closet is, of course, bound to be profoundly
disturbing for the majority, for whom, as we have already said,
homosexuality is a very unpleasant matter. Thus it is very difficult
to break out of the closet. It seems to me that people would be
encouraged to break out of their closet if they thought they could
cope with the consequences. If they lived in a society where violence
was totally unacceptable, no matter what the reason, (most gay
people have endured both physical and verbal violence), if they
grew up in a culture that nurtured difference and diversity and
that sponsored attempts at "cross-nurturing", then perhaps
the trauma of "coming out" to family and friends would
be a challenge worth taking up. That, of course, is why we are
When I speak in such broad terms, it becomes apparent that the
problems facing the lesbian and gay community are very much analogous
to those facing all other minority groups, if not our community
as a whole. We all have common cause, it seems. We all have reason
to make that change. Yet, each minority group represented here
today has probably come, as I have, to that most painful realisation
of all whereby we accept how slow we all are to embrace change,
to take on new information and to reassess ideas and notions long
considered to be inherently true. Yet if we are here today for
any reason then it must be to attempt to give impetus to the changes
desired. Personally, I have found it very difficult to articulate
formal recommendations whose aim is to change attitudes and behaviour,
in a forum where we will be attempting to influence policy making
purely on a local level. It is my personal opinion that the two
changes most urgently required today to make a difference to the
lives of lesbian and gay people are an equal age of consent and
an equal access to civil marriage. No other minority group, that
I am aware of, is denied such basic human rights and I would set
down that their denial to lesbian and gay people is the most public
affront possible to our public equality. Further discussion would
be for a different forum and it is clear that we are not attempting,
here today, to influence directly the debate on such matters.
I do, however, have three proposals to put before you:
1) INVITE REPRESENTATIVES OF LESBIAN AND GAY GROUPS TO ADDRESS
THE ORGANISATION TO WHICH YOU BELONG
Each of the policy making bodies that is to receive a copy of
the report eventually to be published might consider inviting
representatives of local lesbian and gay organisations to come
and address them. Invite us to address your charity, your workers
group, your city council or your voluntary organisation. The proposal
requires no further explanation.
Experience has taught me a little of how ignorant, prejudiced
and even bigoted people can be on issues surrounding homosexuality.
Personal experience has shown me that even listening to the subject
being discussed can be too much, so I suggest we all need to start
2) MAKE A SPACE FOR THE LESBIAN AND GAY COMMUNITY
Policy makers might consider sponsoring the creation of a building
that would be home to local lesbian and gay voluntary groups.
Such a place would provide a meeting place for gay people (there
are no commercial gay venues anywhere in the North West) and would
act as a focal point for the lesbian and gay community. Such an
act, especially if it were to include a commitment of public funds
to the project, -funds to which lesbian and gay people have contributed,
it should be remembered, -would demonstrate that the majority
respects its minority community in a very fundamental way. Unless
and until such respect is given, no growth can be possible and
it seems to me that there can be no more tangible expression of
respect than that a space should be made especially for our community.
3) A PUBLIC AWARENESS STRATEGY
A public awareness strategy would also have as its dynamic the
desire for visibility. It is anticipated that such a strategy
would involve a comprehensive, ongoing attempt to provoke discussion,
influence opinion and challenge prejudice surrounding lesbian
and gay issues throughout this area. We have already given much
thought and effort to the possible implementation of such a strategy,
but would be delighted to have policy makers and other decision
takers backing us in this. Indeed, we feel that many other minority
groups already benefit from such assistance and we are impatient
to take our rightful place at that table.
In conclusion, I would propose that we work towards persuading
central government to commit public monies to a campaign to promote
the social inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the same way
that public funds are already used to promote healthier attitudes
to alcohol or to discourage people from smoking. I would look
forward to the day when a campaign would be mounted for such an
honourable purpose, just as I would look forward to the day when
it would no longer be needed.
Response of the panel
Christine Bell - I suppose , I don't know if you can answer
this but I mean what sort of things supports somebody that's trying
to make a step from being invisible and not prepared to identify
themselves and you know, to come in out of the closet?
James Grant - Well the best answer I can give to that
is to talk about Foyle Friends, basically which exists as an organisation
to help people to come out. That's its primary purpose, but recently
we've been developing many others, we've expanded our role greatly.
As a telephone service, what happens is that people telephone
us. They get our number in local newspapers if we have managed
to place an advertisement with them, telephone us, we act as both
a befriending service both over the phone and will, should the
person at the other end of the line wish it, go on to meet the
person personally. We've been through that experience. There are
a number of volunteers, -there are 8, 9, 10 of us at the moment.
We have been through the experience of coming out. Many of us
don't have formal qualifications but it is not something for which
I think you could have a formal qualification anyway. That's the
most support we can give people at the moment. And what we are
trying to do at the moment, or one of our major goals is to promote
Foyle Friend as widely as possible, to publicise the fact that
we are there, that help exists. So many people have no idea that
there is help there. I know I didn't for years. That would be
part of it and that would also tie in with the public awareness
strategy that I mentioned.
Christine Bell - Thanks. The other thing was I don't
know, I think it's worth mentioning anyway about, do you know
anything about the Policy Appraisal on Fair Treatment PAFT guide-lines.
It's a thing that I know we've worked with through the CAJ. The
government have actually put out, I don't really know why, but
they've put out guide-lines that all policy decisions and legislation
is meant to be checked against a guide-line for how it impacts
on all different groups of people, minorities and it's very wide
ranging. It includes out of the Catholic, Protestant, it included
poverty and things. It actually includes sexual orientation and
women, there's a whole list of things and a lot of groups now
are looking at this. We wrote off to all the government departments
to see, you know saying, this policy, how did you check that against
PAFT and of course the response came back that they weren't really
sure what PAFT was about or they didn't see it as applying to
them. Or the PAFT report itself is quite interesting in 1994/5
they've put out an annual report of PAFT saying oh yes, all these
things were checked against it and they were fine. And yet even
a lot of the evidence today has shown how many policies aren't
fine for people. But I think it is a thing that's worth trying
to find out a bit more about and certainly the CAJ has information.
Because if they are going to put these things down on paper, they
have to be prepared for the fact that people are going to try
to use them and already there's been one case brought by one of
the Unions arguing that, I think it was on grounds of women, that
a policy hadn't given fair treatment, but it is one of the very
few things where sexual orientation is included in the list.
James Grant - Well I must thank you for that and make
it my business to find out a little bit more about PAFT. I know
that we have had people approach us through the phone line and
one of their main concerns is their job and losing their job if
they do become....
Christine Bell - Now it wouldn't really apply directly
to jobs, it's more applying to actual decisions, unless it was
a public body again. You know there may be a way of using PAFT
in that. So it's not a solution by any means, but it's at least
one other little thing that you can use, you know, in lobbying.
And in a whole range of the things that have been talked about
James Grant - Every little helps.
Patrick Yu - A parting from the path is the government
policy. Do you have any suggestion like any legislative protection
on the right of gay and lesbian.
James Grant - Personally no I don't. I'm not sure at
all, now I'm speaking very personally here, I'm not sure at all
that legislation to protect the rights of lesbian and gay people
is actually the route that we should follow. That's a personal
opinion. I'm not at all comfortable with legislation, for example,
in the field of employment that on the one hand protects or bolsters
the rights on the position of lesbian and gay people but at the
same time impinges upon or impairs the freedom or the liberty
of the employer for example. In the short time I can see this
as having great many benefits, but I'm not sure in the long term
that it will actually help us to achieve the acceptance, rather
than the tolerance that we are looking for. Although it's something
about which I have a very open mind but at this present time,
I'm not at all sure that that is the route that we should go.
Written submission by Brendan McKeever - Families with children
In an environment where communal strife and sectarian issues are
the centre of discussion, many social issues have been left on
the back burner. Issues relating to disability are just one such
As a parent of a child with a disability, I and my family have
experienced the feelings of a minority group on a daily basis.
This feeling has been accentuated by the attitude of our "able
bodied" society. Generally people believe that the needs
of the disabled are being well addressed by the health service
and support groups. Often this is just not true.
What are the issues? They are varied ranging from the attitudes
that label people disabled, thus focussing on their inabilities,
to the lack of adequate provision locally. This city is inaccessible,
most people know this, but little has been done to rectify the
situation. Not only modern new building facilities have to be
accessible, but also shops and buildings that have been here years.
There is no true integration in education. Children with disabilities
either go to a Special School or have to fit into mainstream.
Should there not be provision where "able bodied" children
have to fit in with children with disabilities, in an inclusive
atmosphere in a truly integrated school?
Housing provision is inadequate, particularly in the private sector.
The grant structure, with its mean test, puts undue financial
pressure on many families, and often the time it takes to implement
plans is unduly lengthened due to unreasonable bureaucracy. Despite
assurances to the contrary, public bodies are not co-operating
on disability issues. Their response is often fragmented and alienating.
Many families feel isolated, excluded and financially disadvantaged
in conjunction with living daily with disability, as if this is
There has to be a greater emphasis on ability rather than the
converse. Non-disabled people have to appreciate the implications
of language and perceptions on formulating negative attitudes.
People with disabilities have to learn to articulate their needs,
and families have to come to the fore in supporting them in this.
Those most affected with disabilities have to become more involved
with groups that perceive themselves to be working on their behalf.
Locally provision has to be made for people with disabilities
in areas such as housing, education, access, transport, finance,
health and welfare, and facilities for leisure and sport cannot
be overlooked. To ensure this is carried out, someone should be
appointed from the public bodies to monitor and implement anything
relating to disability.
Too often, lip service has been paid to disability issues. Sometimes
provision is made but it is inadequate. Society has to decide
for itself, are those most affected by disability to be included
or not? If the answer is yes, then these recommendations and many
more must be implemented. If the answer is no, then you may find
that those most affected by disability will set their own agenda
and the issues swept under the carpet for many years will come
to the fore to haunt all of us who choose not to act.
The minority groups in this town cannot be ignored. If anything
is to be learned from our recent history, then it must at least
be this. To ignore a problem, does not mean it will go away. For
the sake of our child and many like him, without a voice, we all
have to act, and act now. Derry cannot prosper in peace and unity
if we choose to ignore some people who have every right to live
here. This is the challenge. Have we the courage and commitment
to face up to it. The choice is yours.
Verbal submission by Brendan McKeever - a parent of a child
My submission is as a parent of a child with a disability. And
that is the first point that I would like to emphasise. I'm the
parent of a child with a disability and not the parent of a child
who is disabled. And one of the main points I want to make today
is, the language we use to put people in minorities sometimes
means that they end up being treated as minorities. And I think
it is very, very important that we learn how to use language when
we are dealing with people. Now I think it's, I'm not going away
from the text, I'm trying to tie it in. Basically, if people with
disabilities feel themselves isolated in a minority, then parents
of such children are in a double minority because they feel themselves
as parents, that they should be able to articulate, influence
and develop services for their children. But because so much is
put against them and so much authority, so much bureaucracy is
there, that they are actually frustrated in that process. And
because they feel they should be doing more, that frustration
builds up. So the first point is basically how we determine people
and call them and label them as disabled people has a great influence
on the way we treat them. So if we want to give people with disabilities
more rights, more equality, then we should first look at the language
As a parent I feel very angry when people refer to my child as
handicapped. I could never understand why, but there is something
in the gut that says ... And then when you read around subjects
you realise it comes from a time when people were treated in a
certain way, and, as I say, if you group people together in minorities
I think they have a danger staying in a minority. In other words,
I am a parent of a child with a disability. I'm the parent of
a child who happens to have a disability. Turning on from that
I think people with disabilities, if they are to influence the
society that they live in, I hope they do, they have to become
involved with the groups that are working on behalf of people
with disabilities. I'm glad there's somebody from Rights Now!
I feel that it is very, very important that that is appreciated
because even as the parent of a child, I have great difficulty
identifying with groups who see themselves as acting on our behalf,
and yet I don't see any physical disability among them. I've talked
to other parents too who sometimes feel the same. It's like if
we had a man campaigning for women's rights, I think there would
be an uproar somewhere but it's the same. The more that those
with disabilities identify the needs of disabled people and start
working on their behalf, I think the better it would be for all.
And a step further than that then again, is that all the minorities
that come to light over the years through time, there is somebody
appointed to look after those rights. So we have women's officers,
we have racial equality officers, and we have such things, I think
the time has come, and it is long, long overdue, when we have
a disability rights officer in the town - and more than one, perhaps,
who looks at the issues of education, housing, access, all the
major issues that affect families and try and address those type
of issues in our society and make our society a more equal place.
And I think as time evolves, we do see that there are small groups
of people with disabilities who are actually taking control of
the issues, and I think this is a very, very good thing. This
is separate from the other issues that I brought up but if disabled
people themselves are campaigning for themselves, then I think
they have to be listened to. I can't speak as a disabled person.
I have a difficulty with that because it is our child. But as
I say I feel more frustrated because it is our child. But yea,
I listen to people who are articulate and who are considered not
disabled, but they cannot see the issues that we see. And I have
to admit that at this stage, until our child was diagnosed five
years ago, disability and such issues were alien to myself. It
was only because it affected our family that I could start seeing
some of the basic things that are always around us but which were
never addressed. And the theme of the conference about minorities
also has to be taken in context.
I am aware that Templegrove Action Research, well maybe this is
a misconception, initially Templegrove Action Research seen themselves
in the light of minority groups as in Protestant and Catholic.
I think that whole troubles situation, this social strife has
hidden for twenty-five to thirty years all the major issues, -the
social issues that probably have evolved in this conference today.
And I think it's sad that because of the troubles, we are disadvantaged
even more. In other words, you seen during the cease-fire that
the news coverage changed a lot more to social issues and some
of those were actually discussed and maybe even addressed but
the troubles have hidden this for a long, long time. And that
is another area that media coverage, I think, has to address is
how important is such issues? Is it that an issue that is here
today, gone tomorrow is more important than an issue that has
been there for a long number of years and has been left unaddressed?
And I would then like to reflect on what we call the able-bodied
society. I think that I'm not wrong in saying that most people
who consider themselves able-bodied feel that those who are disabled
are having their needs met. So, when the government says this
is a Disability Living Allowance, everybody thinks well, all the
disabled people get the Disability Living Allowance. They are
all well off, everything's grand. What people are forgotten to
be told is that there are criteria for meeting that and there
is also procedures for trying to get that. And when no one thing
is set out as a card, for those who are considered disabled, there
is all these things in between that is preventing them from actually
getting the very thing that they are entitled to. And I think
that is a misconception that a lot of able-bodied people feel
is, but there are social workers, there are health visitors, there
are welfare officers. Certainly there are all those things and
a lot of them are very, very good, but when policies and the whole
structure is not working on behalf of disabled people, you can
give disabled people, whatever you perceive they need but that
doesn't necessarily mean that you are meeting their needs.
I'd just like to, in conclusion, cover briefly just a few issues
like housing. Housing, access, are in the one boat. We have public
housing in the town here which is provided quite well and the
facilities for disabled people through Habinteg, the Housing Association
and Housing Executive are quite good I would say. I'm not in the
field, so I don't know. But when it comes to people like myself
who are living in the private housing field, there are all the
procedures with grants, the disabled facilities grants and at
one stage we were actually trying to press quite a high level,
the question of why such grant aid for making a new house accessible
was not available. But we were always told, and we took it to
a very high level, that there was no policy on such matters. In
other words, you can argue that the house you're in is entitled
to a grant, and if you are means tested and you've got the money,
you can get it. But if you want to go and provide a better house,
with better facilities all in-built from the beginning, there
is no such aid available. Now that's just an anomaly, but that
anomaly crops up over and over again, and one of the final points
is in regard to education, because it is a child I am specifically
talking about. In our society at the minute we have got main stream
education and special education. If your child has a disability,
they can go to special education or we can try and fit them in
in main stream education. And that fitting in is called integration.
I would challenge that misconception. Our child is the only child
in his school in a wheelchair. That's not integration. Our child
is fitting in to a main stream education. And I think it is a
very, very important, we are always trying to fit in to everybody
else's plan. Why is not everybody trying to fit in to our plan.
You cannot separate a school and have an integrated school with
2 or 3 children with disabilities and call it an integrated school.
If they are going to give us choice, let them give us real choice.
And just finally I would like to say this is a very personal view
point. It is a viewpoint of a parent. But I feel, I heard on the
radio at dinner time that not everybody can come to the conference,
not everybody feels articulate and some people are frightened
of the issues involved. I think I recognise that, but I think
if the conference is to mean anything then something has to evolve,
as time goes, that the issues addressed today will continue to
be addressed in the society in general and the people who work
in this building and work in other public bodies in this town
will take on board what people are saying. And that's all really
I have to say. Thank you very much.
Response of the panel
Mary Mulholland - I'm very glad to see you hear today Brendan
to put it forward yourself. I actually had the pleasure of listening
to Brendan get up and speak very articulately at the European
Day of the Disabled and again he was saying that he was only a
parent advocate. Those parent advocates of disabled people, children
with disabilities, or disabled children, as some parents like
to call them, have got to be listened to. The social workers and
the powers that be must listen to them. And for those of you out
there that don't know what Brendan was talking about when he said
organisations for disabled. He was meaning the big 6, what us
disabled see as the big 6, Spastic Society which is now Scope,
the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, The Royal National
Institute for the Blind. Those are the organisations that never
listen to the grass root members and it is about time they did.
I'm very glad you raised those issues Brendan, thank you.
Patrick Yu - I just have some kind of feeling, I must
praise your courage to come to this forum. I have been working
with some disability person when I was in Hong Kong. I understand
very much how the family feels about when you have a disability
children and I must say to the floor tonight, today here, when
you have a disability children, this is not his or her problem,
it becomes a problem of the whole family and this stress and pressure
is not only on the children alone, it will share the whole family.
And I understand very much what you're feeling and how the people
labelling you or have very different treatment against you. And
finally, I'm so glad to hear your submission today and we will
try our best to write in our report. Thank you.
Christine Bell - I just want to add that you were stressing
that it was a personal submission and I know you just came in,
but it seemed to me that the issues you raised were totally going
to the heart of many of the things that we're looking at today
-language and how it's defined. In ways, I was trying to sum up
earlier on, before you came in, on what had gone on in the morning
session and I felt that you just put it really clearly and eloquently,
you know, many of the things that I was trying to turn over in
my mind having heard all the different submissions in the morning.
So thank you very much. It was really valuable.
Written submission from the Baha'i community
This submission is made by the Spiritual Assembly, the elected
administrative body for the members of the Baha'i Faith in the
local government district of Londonderry. It is based not only
on the experiences of these members but on the key beliefs of
the world-wide Baha'i religious community.
These beliefs include: the oneness of humankind, the essential
spiritual unity of the world's religions, and a social vision
of humanity as one body, in which the health of the whole cannot
be guaranteed as long as any part of it is disadvantaged, deprived,
Our submission has three key elements:
-Being part of a religion which is neither Protestant nor Catholic,
and being aware of the richness of religious diversity in this
district, and of the need to see beyond the two major branches
of Christianity, we propose that the work and responsibility of
the Community Relations resources of Derry City Council specifically
take into account this wider religious diversity, a move which
would be to the benefit of all the people of the district, including
those of the two major traditions.
-Knowing that local government is supposed to be consulting with
the people they represent as part of the U.N. post-Global Summit
programme to which the British government has subscribed, with
a view to establishing a "Local Agenda 21" to carry
the development of Derry into the 21st century, we call on Derry
City Council to embark on this consultative process as a matter
of urgency and in a way which will lead to that genuine grassroots
empowerment of communities which is a key element of the Agenda
-Believing that the oneness of humankind must be understood before
genuine tolerance and social justice can be established, we call
on the Education authorities to include the teaching of world
citizenship as a part of the school curriculum from an early stage.
Verbal submission by Ina Cantrell - a perspective from the
Ina Cantrell - Well, this submission is made by the spiritual
assembly of the Baha'i community in Derry and the spiritual assembly
is the elected administrative body for the members of the Baha'i
faith. It is based not only on the experiences of these members
but on the key beliefs of the world wide Baha'i religious community.
These beliefs include the oneness of humankind, the essential
spiritual unity of the worlds religions, and a social vision of
humanity as one body in which the health of the whole cannot be
guaranteed as long as any part of it is disadvantaged, deprived
or suffering. Our submission had 3 key elements, being part of
a religion which is neither Protestant or Catholic, and being
aware of the religious diversity in this district and of the need
to see beyond the 2 major branches of Christianity. We propose
that the work and responsibility of the community relations resources
of Derry City Council specifically take into account this wider
religious diversity, a move which would be to the benefit of all
the people of the district, including those of the 2 major traditions.
Number 2, knowing that local government is supposed to be consulting
with the people they represent, as part of the United Nations
post global summit programme, to which the British Government
has subscribed with a view to establishing a local agenda 21 to
carry the development of Derry into the 21st Century. We call
on Derry City Council to embark on this consultative process as
a matter of urgency and in a way which will lead to that genuine
grass roots empowerment of communities which is a key element
of the agenda 21 process. And number 3, believing that the oneness
of humankind must be understood before genuine tolerance and social
justice can be established we call on the education authorities
to include the teaching of world citizenship as a part of the
school curriculum from an early stage.
Response of the panel
Patrick Yu - As we respond to the Muslim community this
morning, in particular relation to the third point in your recommendation,
I think some of the floor people they did not appear in the morning
session, I think we are aware of the Religious Reform Order N.I.
1989 which imposes compulsory religious education in our school
once a week. I think it is already totally ...... those in the
national law in which the U.K. Government signed a treaty like
International Convention For The Elimination Of Racial Discrimination.
As I told the Muslim community this morning, the U.K. Government
they will examine their report by March, next month, on the 4th
and 5th of March in Geneva. C.E.N. N.I. (Council for Ethnic Minority),
we will send a delegation team to Geneva and will be including
this point in our submission paper. This is one thing. Second
thing, I'm quite concerned about, you know, the resources in particular
to the religious and other education programme. Maybe we are not
aware, in England, Wales and Scotland we have separate legislation
in which religious education is not compulsory, and also in the
schools in England, Wales and Scotland, they have opportunity
to have minority religious programme in the school curriculum.
I think in U.K. as a whole, we must have the same kind of practice
and policy which is extended to Northern Ireland. This is my comment
on your submission. Thank you.
Ina Cantrell - Well the Baha'i belief also would be
the hope that integrated schools will actually be a result in
Northern Ireland because only when you integrate can you really
become tolerant of one another and grow up knowing each other's
Verbal submission by Dr. Nooshin Proudman, N.I. Council for
I would like to read the background of NIC. A number of organisations
and individuals from both majority and minority ethnic communities
living in the north of Ireland approached multi-cultural resources
centre to investigate the idea of formally establishing an independent
network of communication between agencies and individuals who
are concerned to ensure equality of treatment and equality of
opportunity for all those who live, work and study in this country.
The meeting was held on the 11th of June 1994 to discuss the concept
of establishing a council for ethnic equality, North of Ireland.
It was proposed and agreed by the vast majority of participants
for a steering committee to be set up to move forward the idea
of such a council. On the 13th of May 1995, the North of Ireland
Council for Ethnic Equality was launched following the call for
its establishment. Now, the purpose of the council would be to
value and sustain ethnic difference, to ensure that North of Ireland
has appropriate anti-racist legislation, to ensure that anti-racist
training and education is available to promote the dissemination
of advice and information about ethnic and ethnic equality, to
seek wider understanding of concern in the field of ethnic equality.
Other objectives would be to improve the quality of life among
minorities, to engage in, advise or direct research which will
have a positive impact on the lives of minorities, to provide
and/or facilitate advocacy support for minority and ethnic individuals,
to support victims of racial harassment, to develop and implement
an effective system to monitor and address incidents of racial
Verbal submission by Donnie Sweeney - the Men's Action Network
I must say I came along this morning really as an observer
and I didn't think that I was going to speak at all. I suppose
I wondered how a 40 year old married man, who has a job, and who
is a Catholic as well, could be considered a minority in Derry.
But I must say, as the morning went on I began to find that there
was lots of things said by many of the previous speakers that
I felt some sort of, that I felt akin to. So I decided at the
last minute to say something. And I am speaking as in individual,
but as a member of the Men's Action Network or M.A.N., as we call
it. And can I also say at the outset that we don't meet on the
top of the Donegal hills and beat drums. We meet locally in one
of the local voluntary sector offices and we meet once a week
to discuss personal health and well being. M.A.N. was set up in
October 1995 and maintains an open door policy with a friendly
welcome to any man who wishes to come along. Our aims and objectives
are as follows
1. To stimulate the growth of community self help initiatives
among men in the North West area.
2. To facilitate communication between men on issues relating
to their health, well-being and changing role in society and to
help establish such facilities or services deemed necessary.
3. To seek to create new services to meet the current emotional,
physical and mental health needs of men.
4. To seek to create pre-emptive support as well as active response
to men experiencing crisis.
5. To provide information on issues relating directly to men's
health and well-being.
6. To explore and attempt to understand the nature of disadvantage,
damage and pain currently experienced, as well as inflicted, by
men in our society.
7. To focus and build upon men's desire for useful change to the
current male role.
8. To help promote the holistic well-being of society through
the participation of men in self-help scenarios which foster respect
for both men and women equally. And finally
9. to work in conjunction with women's organisations and other
relevant groups towards mutual understanding, social inclusion
I think we came together as a group of men for a number of reasons.
I suppose, when we looked at some of the statistics about men's
health we were appalled. Some of those statistics are, that men
die on average 5 to 6 years younger than women. They are twice
as likely as women to die before the age of 65, four times as
likely to die prematurely from that biggest killer of all heart-attack.
And twice as likely to die from lung cancer. 75% of suicide victims
are men. Most drug addicts, homeless and inhabitants of mental
hospitals are men. As a group we really want to challenge the
stereotypical roles of men. I refer to the heart- attack and the
number of people that die from heart-attacks. I think the statistic
is something like 10% of those men who die from a heart-attack
could actually have been saved if they had called the doctor,
something like 10 or 15 minutes earlier. We don't do it. We don't
look after ourselves. Macho man is killing us. I said I wasn't
sure about whether I was in a minority or not. I suppose at the
moment the Men's Action Network feels like a minority but I suppose
some of us hope that sometime in the future we will become a majority.
Thank you very much.
Response of the panel
Christine Bell - I have a question really about in what
ways have you worked with women's organisations and how have you
found that relationship?
Donnie Sweeney - I think a lot of us are actually led
by the women's movement. I think we have, as I say, just come
together in October of last year. I myself work in the voluntary
sector, as a number of us do, and we have always been, I don't
know, maybe envious of the women's movement and how far it has
come and certainly we would see us working closely with and along
the same lines, almost, as the women's movement. I think we are
struggling with what that means to us as men, but, I mean, that's
what we are about.
Christine Bell - I'm glad you did decide to speak because
I think it is an interesting perspective and in ways you know,
when we are looking at ways of inclusiveness, you know one of
the things that has been coming out has been, if you like, the
need for people who are defined maybe as majorities to change.
And maybe that at the minute means that you are a minority within
a majority. You know, that's positive in itself.
Verbal submission by Mary Kay Mullan of the Travellers Support
Hello, how are you doing? I'm here as a member of the Derry Travellers
Support Group. I'm not speaking for members of the travelling
community, who are not here today. I'm working, the Derry Travellers
Support Group is formed to support travellers to come to develop
their community action for themselves. And we provide, our aim
is to provide resources, education and training and support for
travellers to organise within their own communities. And one reason
there's no traveller here is just the time it would take to encourage
travellers to come to speak. As well as that, since travellers
have not yet organised in community groups, individual travellers
would be speaking for themselves and would feel it difficult to
speak for their community. But as a member of the Derry Travellers
Support Group we value the contribution of travellers to our society
and we recognise them as a separate ethnic group.
At the moment one of our biggest problems we are facing is that
travellers aren't even going to be, you know, at the moment we
are fighting for travellers to be included in the new Race Relations
Act. The government doesn't even want to recognise travellers
as a separate ethnic group within the remit of the Race Relations
Act. Issues for travellers in Derry are issue of accommodation,
issues of discrimination by the settled community, and issues
of access to education and training and also issues of poverty
and exclusion. And that leaves travellers outside of the community
and without the support and also as targets for any racial slurs
that people wish to put on them. We have a report here from the
conference we organised called "Travelling On" addressing
the needs of the travelling community, an inter-agency conference
held here in the Guildhall last April 1995. So we want to submit
that. From that, there was traveller input into that conference
as well, and there was recommendations from it. And we recently
held a workshop for travellers and members of the support group
to come together and to discuss how the support group could be
supportive to travellers and how travellers could maybe get involved
in the support group. Out of that, demands came that we could
have a centre, a premises for travellers where they could establish
their own identity and give them independence and have a place
from which to organise. They also want, travellers were also keen
to have facilities for children and child-care and education for
both men and women within the city and a youth club so that young
people could have somewhere to go. Because my observation at the
moment, young people, well one of the big issues for travellers
was exclusion from pubs and social places in Derry just because
they were travellers in general. And young people not feeling
able to go to venues in the city, like other youth clubs or to
night-spots or things like that, feeling on the outside of our
society. So that's at the moment what I would say on behalf of
Derry Travellers Support Group.
Patrick Yu - I have a few questions. First one I would
like to ask about, is there any support from the local council
in relation to the travellers' problem in Derry.
Mary Kay Mullan - Well the traveller, -the council sees
their role as providing site accommodation for travellers in Derry
and they have done that by providing 2 sites, one at Daisyfield
on the Letterkenny Road and one at Ballyarnett Park outside the
city and this operation is controlled from the City Engineers
Department and it's the only department that has anything to do
with housing and people and I don't feel they are equipped to
deal with that. And the sites are, on the Daisyfield site there
is just toilets, cold water and a shower provision in a small
unit beside the hard top, where they put the caravans. And it's
a very restricted space within that site and there really isn't
any room for providing a place for, we cannot provide the pre-school
child care that we want because we can't get, you know we'd need
a very small portacabin to put on it and we haven't had the space
within that site for any development. So it's a very closed site.
On the Ballyarnett site, it's a lot bigger but it's half houses,
where you have a kitchen and a bathroom with a bath and you have
a solid fuel heater with, so they can heat water as well. But
half houses also mean that travellers need a caravan for their
families to sleep in and all. And it hasn't been very satisfactory
and there has been problems about the maintenance and running
of that site. And at the moment, there's also a big problem of
travellers travelling around in Derry or in Ireland, where they
can go to get facilities and there actually are travellers on
that site at the moment who are travelling around. They are called
the carpet people. But I don't think at that site there was no
provision for a stand pipe for water or for toilet provision for
families coming there, you know, just to stay for a week or over-night
you know. So I think there's a problem with accommodation and
is very, very problematic. There's lots of problems and it becomes
also a problem where the rate payers won't stand for this if anything
goes wrong, or anything. So it's a very, very difficult situation.
And also we have been pushing that the Housing Executive should
be or -Housing Association- should be responsible for housing
and that they should provide some travellers who move around in
small family units, would like a small housing unit you know,
where there would be a few houses together for travellers to live
in. The ideal that they would like.
Patrick Yu - Another question I would like to ask. I
am aware some of the councillors, maybe not in Derry, in other
district areas, some of the councillors quite racist. And quite
often they make some very racist remarks on travellers. Is there
any situation in Derry?
Mary Kay Mullan - Oh yes. Well, I think it reflects
the general community that travellers are seen as a problem. The
start is, this is a problem. This is something the rate payers
won't stand for, so therefore councillors are also pressurised
in the fact that they have pressure from, you know, their constituency.
And also that it is seen as a problem, and they have to deal with
this problem and why should they have to deal with this when there's
other things they need to get on with. So travellers are really
on the margin again. And when you see something as a problem then
all you do is complain about the problems rather than... We are
trying to create a creative, positive approach to sorting out
some sort of accommodation for travellers in Derry. Many travellers
do live in houses in the Derry area as well, but they still want
to retain their traditional cultural ways of living as well.
Christine Bell - I just had a question. You spoke a
little bit about the barriers for a traveller wanting to come
and speak and present at something like this, I wondered could
you speak a little more about that just briefly?
Mary Kay Mullan - Well, I feel, from our point of view,
we'd have to support the traveller to come and talk. And also
that since travellers in Derry haven't yet organised a kind of
a traveller group as such, you know, that they would be feeling
that they were coming talking as an individual, maybe rather than
representing the whole community. We have worked with one traveller
or two travellers to go and talk in schools, you know. A young
traveller who's working with us, have supported her in coming
along and going to talk in schools to smaller groups about their
experience both in the society and in schooling, which is usually
very, been very negative with a lot of discrimination. So, also
with the short time involved, we hadn't time to do that.
Written submission from Meanscoil Dhoire in Irish read by
O Doughaile, translated by Dave Duggan
Information concerning our School:
Since 1984 children have received an excellent primary education
through the medium of Irish in Bunscoil Cholmcille which is located
in the Steelstown area of the city. However on completion of their
primary schooling, these children were compelled to attend English
medium secondary schools, despite the fact that most would have
preferred to continue their education through the medium of Irish.
This failure of the Department of Education to provide continuity
into secondary level resulted in parents taking the initiative
to ensure that their children receive an education suitable to
their age, needs and abilities. Parents and supporters of Irish
medium education established Meanscoil Dhoire to provide secondary
education through the medium of the Irish language. Meanscoil
Dhoire began on the first of
September 1994 and continues to provide instruction of the full
curriculum as prescribed by D.E.N.I.
The advantages to Irish medium Education:
In the Parent's Charter it is stated "It is your duty to
ensure that your child receives full time education suitable to
his or her age, ability and aptitude, and any special educational
needs which he or she might have. In most cases this is achieved
through the child's attendance at school." We believe that
all parents have a right to state a preference for the school
that they would like their child to attend.
Any child provided the opportunity of education through the Irish
language has a very special ability shared by few other children
at that age. They have a level of fluency and confidence in a
second language that immediately gives them an advantage educationally
and socially. This advantage should be nurtured and built upon
by continuing their education in an Irish medium secondary school.
Too many children have lost this advantage already.
70% of the children of Europe speak two or more languages fluently.
A child, as one of this number, can claim his/her rightful place
as a full citizen of Europe, confident and assured in their own
identity and culture but also open and appreciative of other people's
cultures and traditions. These children are not part of some isolated
minority. Indeed it is monolingual children who form the minority.
In Ireland today children are receiving their total education
through the medium of Irish in both primary and secondary schools.
Obviously then for a child who has spent 7 years in Irish medium
primary education, the natural choice is for them to continue
their secondary education through Gaeilge... Meanscoil Dhoire
provides this opportunity.
Funding and Exclusion:
The 15 subjects of the N.I. Curriculum are taught to all secondary
school children in Derry. This means that up until the age of
16 every child, irrespective of whether they attend grammar or
secondary school will be taught a common body of skill and knowledge.
In a Gaeilge medium secondary school, the same curriculum is adhered
to but with the added advantage of being taught through Gaeilge,
therefore constantly enhancing linguistic ability.
While it is the curriculum, as laid down by the Department of
Education for Northern Ireland (D.E.N.I.) that is taught in the
Meanscoil, and while we are liable to inspection by the same body,
they still refuse to provide funding of any kind. Our only funding
being provided entirely by a Management Support group, parents
and the public. This is a heavy financial burden considering the
staffing and facilities required to accommodate a modern secondary
Heating / Lighting
All books, equipment and materials
All transport and travel costs
Even grants for school uniforms, meals and transport have been
withdrawn from pupils who enroled in Meanscoil Dhoire. What we
find particularly regrettable about the Northern Ireland Department
of Education's attitude towards our efforts to provide a high
standard of education through Irish, is not only their refusal
to co-operate with us, but their ability to block other sources
of funding, as we found to our cost when we approached various
bodies at both home and abroad seeking financial aid, only to
be told that this funding was not available as we fell under an
educational remit. We believe that most can understand
our dismay and disbelief at this refusal from groups whose aim
is to aid the improvement and development of Irish society, on
the grounds that the Education Dept. has denied us their official
support. It would seem that we are locally to be denied the right
of choice itself in our own children's education
We hope that we have expressed clearly both the importance of
education through Irish and our obvious need for financial support.
As to the Dept. of Education's reluctance to fund us, we find
their complete lack of recognition hard to accept given that we
meet all the necessary requirements (including their own curriculum
and inspection). We feel that we are providing an essential and
effective facility for children to enrich themselves both culturally
Although we fail to comprehend the lack of official provision
or recognition for a secondary school which obviously meets the
Education Board's standards, we certainly acknowledge and greatly
appreciate the support we receive from the Derry community, without
whom the existence and continuance of our school would have been
impossible. It is our wish to repay that support by not only maintaining
the present high standard of Irish medium education for young
people, strengthening family and school links, but also constantly
improving and modernising our facilities, thus enabling us to
involve the community as a whole. There is perhaps a glimmer of
light on the horizon, as we look at the recent D.E.N.I. funding
given to the Fountain Primary school through the Londonderry Initiative,
this to be applauded and welcomed as perhaps a sign of changing
attitudes towards the needs within our community.
While we see the Irish language as a means of granting children
a greater opportunity to develop educationally to their full potential
and of creating an atmosphere that minimalises disaffection and
marginalisation, we also view it as an important development of
the cultural identity of the community in general. The proper
understanding of autonomous culture is surely the most basic step
in the promotion of tolerance within a diverse community. Only
through a mutual respect and comprehension of these diverse cultures
can reconciliation truly blossom.
Response of the panel
Patrick Yu - I have a question about how many student at
the moment in your school?
Tomas O Doughaile replies in Irish
Dave Duggan translates: Twenty five.
Christine Bell - It was just to say I know that the
Newry Bun Scoil, are at least looking at the possibility of taking
a European case to the European Court of Human Rights and I don't
know if that's something that you have or would consider. It's
a very slow thing to do so it's not like it provides an instant
solution but you know, it's another way of lobbying and certainly
the organisation that I work with the CAJ, we are providing assistance
to the Newry Bun Scoil people as regards that and if you did want
any advice on that I can give you the phone number and you can
talk to the lawyer there.
Tomas O Doughaile replies in Irish
Dave Duggan translates:-Thomas appreciates the offer
of any help but notes that himself and his colleagues at the Irish
language secondary school are so busy running the school and keeping
the school running that engaging in processes of law is probably
down their agenda. But they welcome the offer of help.
Written submission from The Women's Centre - read by Clionagh
This submission is based on the North West Women's Consultation
Research Report on the Urban Regeneration Outline Strategy Proposal.
The researchers consulted externally throughout the various women's
groups in and around the city. We feel that the issues outlined
in the research reflect a contemporary picture for local women.
The report was prepared by Helena Schlindwein and Theresa Kelly.
The Women's Centre is an organisation dedicated to promoting education
and empowerment for local women. It is around these issues of
education and participation in public life that we have chosen
The United Nations Women's Conference was held in Beijing last
year. Out of this conference a number of key issues were raised
in relation to women's rights. Women's right to equality and participation
in public policy was emphasised and agreed. The governments of
Britain and Ireland were both participants in the conference where
it was agreed that 40% representation of either gender should
be the goal of all public bodies.
Both governments have now signed the Beijing Declaration which
recognises women's need for empowerment and equal rights.
Although these sound familiar and very basic social principles
women's contribution is still not reflected in their level of
public representation. In the regard in spite of being a statistical
majority they are still accorded minority status in terms of access
and representation. Many local women experience this as invisibility.
They feel that both individually and collectively women and women's
groups are not listened to and their work is undervalued. Their
experience and social contribution is discounted and marginalised.
The Womens Centre therefore welcomes Templegrove Action Research's
consultation process as we see community consultation as essential
to social inclusion.
It has been proven that women work well in alternative educational
settings such as those provided by the Women's Movement. It is
essential that this work is valued and appropriately accredited.
There is a lack of statutory support for personal development
work for women. We see this as an essential first step in educational
provision to counteract the low self-esteem experienced by many
women. Self esteem is related to class, education, levels of poverty,
work and job opportunities. We believe that support for personal
development work is essential to women's social inclusion.
In order for women to avail of educational opportunities, childcare
provision is necessary and should be provided free and on the
same premises. This is a statutory responsibility.
Centre with adult education classes and creche provision are critically
Special education for adult women with learning difficulties such
as dyslexia and literacy problems is under resourced.
A major issue for women was getting work placements that provide
education and training with realistic work experience.
Young single parents are blatantly discriminated against by the
education system. This issue needs to be taken on board by educational
institutions and procedures put in place e.g. childcare provision
whereby education can continue uninterrupted.
Women now expect to be invited to participate in decision making
processes on the new bodies. Gender-proofing policies should be
strongly enforced on all partnership boards and public bodies.
Groups within the voluntary/community sector who provide resources
and promote the development of women should be represented on
panels, boards and government departments. It is essential that
these bodies who make decisions on the provision of education,
training and childcare are accountable.
These steps are essential to develop a vision that is diverse
We have chosen to focus on education and public participation
in this submission simply because the scope of the issues affecting
women locally is so expansive. Our work and concern of course
extends to a much wider range of issues including personal safety
and violence against women, discrimination against lesbian and
bisexual women, discrimination against single parents. We have
chosen to highlight certain issues rather than others with an
awareness that some of these are already represented by other
groups at the hearing today.
Response of the panel
Christine Bell - I suppose as you have chosen to focus
on public participation in Northern Ireland particularly, women
don't seem to be visible at all in government. It's a very vague
question but I wondered if you could have given us your thoughts
on how much the barriers to women in say the political parties
here are barriers of access and how much it's barriers of not
really seeing the parties as meeting their needs. You know how
much it's sort of theoretical barriers to feeling not included
in that politics.
Clionagh Boyle - I think there are a couple of issues
there. I think participation in public life in general is very
difficult and a life in politics is very demanding particularly
if you've got children and other responsibilities. So I think
there are very simple issues like that. I think also there is
the issue of whether women should go forward within the parties
or go forward on a single issue on a feminist agenda. And like,
I think that is being discussed as well. But I think political
parties, some political parties are taking steps, more steps should
be taken to promote the inclusion of women and the accommodation
of women within political structures.
Christine Bell - And what's been the sort of discussion
around, within your group around women going forward on a single
Clionagh Boyle - Well actually we are going to have
a debate on that during International Women's week around where
is common ground. Is it possible to go forward on a women's agenda?
And that is I think on the 11th of March.
Written submission read by Mrs. Winnie McClements from the
NW Hard of Hearing Club
We would like to thank Templegrove Action Research Limited for
providing a forum through which our views may be expressed.
The North West Hard of Hearing Group was established in 1989.
The group came together in recognition of the lack of representation
of this minority. It has a membership of 73 people and the elected
committee meets monthly to discuss and explore issues relating
to the problems arising from being hard of hearing.
Seventy three people may appear to be a very small minority but
let us set these in the wider context. There are about 7.5 million
people in the U.K. with some degree of hearing loss - that's 17%
of the population; at least three quarters of them are over 60
years old. Approximately 3 in every 1,000 children are born with
some degree of deafness and it is estimated that 1 in every 1,000
children is born with a severe or profound hearing loss. The most
common cause of deafness is simply the ageing process.
Here in Northern Ireland 25% of the population are hard of hearing.
In normal circumstances 25% of the population would not be viewed
as a minority but this condition is not really perceived by the
public at large as a serious disability.
Hard of hearing people have the same abilities, interests and
aspirations as anyone else but they continually face social barriers
such as discrimination and communication difficulties.
However, these barriers can often be overcome through greater
awareness of hard of hearing people's needs and the use of technical
and human support.
There are a number of approaches to the removal of such barriers:
1. Perhaps City Council and a number of other statutory bodies
throughout the Derry City area could adopt a "raising of
awareness" policy and undertake the promotion of this policy
to the wider community in an attempt to have the needs of hard
of hearing people more widely understood and appreciated.
2. Certainly the problems of the hard of hearing community could
be improved dramatically by the introduction of some simple technical
devices in public places. For example, the"Loop System".*
When installed in public areas this enables someone with a hearing
aid to tune into specifically what they want to hear without the
interference of background noise. This is a particularly valuable
asset to the hard of hearing in places like cinemas, leisure centres,
theatres, banks, post offices and churches.
For your information, we enclose a table giving estimates relating
to adults in Great Britain, based on Institute of Hearing Research
Statistics and outlining degrees of deafness and how prevalence
of hearing loss relates to age.
In conclusion, given that the most common cause of deafness is
simply the ageing process we would like to offer a timely reminder
to the entire population that this is a disability which will,
in all probability, come to us all. Any measures which are taken
to improve the lot of the hard of hearing can only be an investment,
for all, for the future.
*A Loop System comprises of a loop of wire, an amplifier, and
either a microphone or direct connection to a sound source. If
a hearing aid is switched to its "T" setting, a tiny
coil within the aid responds to the magnetic waves sent out from
DEGREES OF DEAFNESS
|Description of |
|dBH L better ear|
|No. of adults|
|% of total|
|Mild hearing loss||25-40
|Moderate hearing loss||41-70
|Severe hearing loss||71-95
|Profound hearing loss ||96+
||0.24 million ||0.14%
Estimates relating to adults in Great Britain, based on Institute
of Hearing Research Statistics.
HOW PREVALENCE OF HEARING LOSS RELATES TO AGE
|Age group||% prevalence of hearing loss|
Response of the panel
Mary Mulholland - Just two points I'd like to bring
up Winnie. Do you think it's the possibility that some of the
organisations don't realise that the loop induction system or
some of the statutory bodies don't think of the value they would
get back from the loop induction system installed as a problem?
Winnie McClements - Well that's quite possible but we
are hoping to get a campaign of education in the public generally
and businesses and perhaps the local council, DoE people who have
a way of introducing this sort of thing to the public you know.
But we are hoping to start a campaign generally to make everybody
aware that we're behind in that respect yes.
Mary Mulholland - And do you think enough is being done
by the statutory bodies who do have such facilities to publicise
Winnie McClements - No, I don't think so. No. Because
there is just too many people who don't know how to handle a deaf
person or a hard of hearing person. So I think that education
really, it must be stemmed from there, I think.
Christine Bell - I apologise for my ignorance here but
I wondered what does a lip speaker actually do? Is it anyone who
is speaking that's within disability or do you have a special
Winnie McClements - Well, we are in the process of training
a lip-speaker now for the North West Education Area you know.
She has good hearing. She has full hearing but she will be able
to communicate by just speaking what a hearing person is talking
about. We wouldn't hear perhaps what somebody is talking about
on a stage. But she will hear and sit and just lip speak to us.
We can lip read her but we cannot hear what the person is saying.
So it is a great advantage to have a lip speaker at any group
meetings or that sort of thing you know.
Closing remarks from panel
Patrick Yu - I will just make a few points. Firstly, I
am so glad to hear different groups make their submission today
in relation to their problem. I think it is vital that in Derry
City or in the whole of Northern Ireland we have different groups
of people suffering from different problems. And because of the
submissions today, and also because of the Public
Hearing today, I find that I am not alone. I am working with ethnic
minorities, in particular with my Chinese community. We have been
fighting for years and years for legislative protection for social
policy changes, in other similar problems in other groups we deliberate
this morning and this afternoon. And I found that this kind of
forum can make us aware our struggle is not alone. After today's
public meeting I think one of my main tasks to do is to make contact
with other ethnic groups so that maybe we can work together even
though we have different issues. As I make my comment in the afternoon
remarks, it creates a kind of broad alliance on the minority issue.
As I told this afternoon, the problem manifest are on the discrimination
side but in different forms. So each group may already suffer
various degrees of discrimination and I'm quite keen, in particular
those international standards to eradicate those discrimination.
And as you are aware all those international standards are based
on the International law on the principal of equality to all and
equity of treatment. And this international standard, they base
on and also they set the limits of both the majority rules and
also how to protect the minority rights. I think today is a very
good situation, every group can make their own voice. Every group
can raise their own problem so that the panel have a very good
opportunity to put everything into our report and your submission
will be very fruitful and will help us to enrich our report. And
today is only the starting and I still hope more and more other
people will voice their problem so that we can support each other.
Thank you very much.
Mary Mulholland - I would just like to add a few things
to what Patrick said. I came into today with great anticipation
never having done such a thing before and coming from a disability
background I find that I've listened to everybody today, discrimination
is very, very rife throughout the whole of Ireland still and throughout
the whole of the world to a great degree. I think, speaking on
behalf of one of the largest majority minority groups, as Patricia
Bray said this morning 201,000 people are physically disabled.
That does not include the visually disabled or the hearing disabled
and that is only adult percentage of the population. There is
over a quarter of the people of Northern Ireland with some form
of disability and it is about time everybody's voice, not just
the disabled's voice, but everybody's voice is listened to, and
listened and taken heed of, and I would like to close on that
Christine Bell - Well it's quite difficult to just reflect
quickly after hearing such a diversity of point of views throughout
the day and so much new information, so many things that maybe
we knew put in different ways has been very thought provoking.
I suppose one thing that I am involved with that seems to me to
be quite relevant to this is campaigning for a bill of rights
and although it sounds like quite a legal thing, it seems to me
that a lot of what people are addressing here is some sort of,
the need for some sort of mechanism to have their concerns addressed
and where they can question things and debate things. But really,
in conclusion, I wanted to go back and just read a definition
that came out of the presentation of the Foyle Homeless on behalf
of Foyle Homeless because although it's put forward as a definition
of a homeless person, it struck me that the sort of idea that
it was putting forward was something that everybody was in their
way saying. They said:
And with that I'll finish.
"A homeless person has been described as someone
who does not live in a place where individuals and
families can be themselves for better or worse,
can obtain peace and security and can flourish both
mentally and physically. It should be an effective
base for family life, for providing relaxation and
the strength to participate in our highly pressurised
and competitive society. I would argue that it is a
basic human right to have a place to live which is
affordable safe and secure."
Closing Remarks from Marie Smyth, Director, Templegrove Action
It has fallen to me to finish today's proceedings as the Projects
Director of Templegrove Action Research. And to conclude I'd just
like to reflect back to you some of the things that we have been
listening to here today. First of all when we launched this Public
Hearing, I was not aware of the vibrancy, the energy, the enthusiasm
and the anger that there is in the disability community in this
city. I am left in no doubt and I think the people who have been
sitting here today are left in no doubt that there is a great
deal of energy, vitality, anger, just anger and all sorts of other
things there. And I am very impressed by the range and the diversity
and the depth of the submissions we've had to day and our final
report will reflect that.
The second thing I would like to say is we have had a number of
different groups coming forward who we have not normally heard
from, certainly under the roof of the Guildhall.
We've had people talking about the difficulties faced by people
living with HIV and AIDS. We've had people talking about the difficulties
contained within the Muslim community and with other religious
minorities such as the Baha'i community. We have also had Pauline
Collins talking to us about the difficulties faced by those who
do not wish to live within a religious community at all but wish
to live as secular people in a secular society. And we have also
been delighted to have submissions from the Protestant community
speaking about the difficulties they face living in a society,
in a city, which is predominantly Catholic, and particularly Ken
Rooney's submission from the Fountain Area Partnership. We have
also had people talking about the gay and lesbian issues faced
by people living in the city in that capacity, and towards the
end of the day we have had submissions from the linguistic minorities,
namely the Irish language community, on the difficulties faced
Our report will contain and elaborate on those themes and we will
have the benefit and the wisdom of the panel to add to those and
we will be publishing that report and presenting it to the statutory
bodies, all of whom were invited to attend here today. Very few
have managed to make it but we will make sure that the views and
the opinions that were expressed here today are placed on their
desks for their urgent attention.
The themes that have emerged and the feelings that have come up
have been many. When I was listening I could here nervousness,
but I could also hear a lot of anger. I could hear a great deal
of sadness and I was very moved by what people had to say. And
certainly some of you who were sitting down there listening were
also moved and were moved to put pen to paper and to come up here,
some of you for the first time to speak on behalf of yourselves
and people who you live with or who you are connected with in
some way. Our aim was to empower people to do just precisely that
and I hope that you feel like we do, that there has been some
measure of success in empowering people to do this.
As Patrick, I think, has said, one of the difficulties faced by
people living in minority situations is that of isolation. Hopefully
today, people have been able to come out and recognise the similarities
between their situation and other peoples situations, even though
they may not share the same situation in terms of disability or
religion or political view or whatever, there are certain common
themes and we look forward to teasing those out with the panel
over the next number of days and including those in our final
Where do we go from here? I'm going to issue you with an invitation
now. We are back in the Guildhall from the 18th to the 20th of
June in this room and we will be launching our final reports,
amongst which will be the report of today's proceedings. You are
all more than welcome to come back and talk to us again, meet
us again and we will be also inviting the City Council and all
the other public bodies to come and receive what we have found
out over the last 2 years work.
I am indebted to Brendan McKeever who pointed out that in this
city, and indeed in this country, when you mention minorities
and when you mention minority rights, very often people have come
to think of that, simply as a matter of sectarianism, the sectarian
division and the Northern Ireland problem. And I think today has
been a very powerful illustration of how, underneath that large
agenda there are other agendas that have been squashed and disallowed.
Hopefully today we have gone someway towards "complicating"
the picture but also enriching it and allowing voices to be heard.
So please come back and meet us on the 18th of June right through
to the 20th and we will be glad to see you.
Finally, I need to give out some thanks to some of the people
who have made today possible. First of all, Lorcan is wiping his
head down there at the back and he has been sitting very patiently
on the sound desk. He has been operating the loop system, which
is what you see on the floor in front of you, and he has also
been tape recording our proceedings which we will transcribe and
turn them into our final report. Gloria is now in the position
of having to sign what I'm saying and I'm talking about her. But
Gloria has been standing here signing very patiently all day and
doing a great job in ISL and we are very grateful to her coming
all the way from Buncrana and she didn't bring her passport. Next
to Gloria we have Chuck Mikity sitting on the desk here with the
overhead projector. He has been writing people's names and their
organisation titles and projecting them up onto the screen for
us. We have Allen Kennedy sitting at the back with his camera
and he has been moving around taking photographs and we are very
grateful to him for doing that. We have Pauline Collins sitting
on the desk who has been receiving you, hopefully issuing you
with badges as you came in the door. And Ruth Moore standing beside
her, who has been giving psychological support to people before
they came up and picking them up off the floor after they have
been up at the front. Can we thank our observers who have travelled
all the way from Portadown and we are very glad to have them here
and we will be collaborating with them. Hopefully they are thinking
about doing something similar in their area and we would be very
glad to help them and advise them in any way we can and we look
forward to a return invitation to Portadown to a Public Hearing
there. Can we thank Joe O'Brien who has stayed with us and who
actually is the only official observer who has stayed with us
throughout the whole day, from the Western Health and Social Services
Council. Joe, thank you. And I think we really are at the end
of today, so I will finish by thanking the people who gave us
the money to organise today, that is Northern Ireland Voluntary
Trust in Belfast, the Community Relations Council, Belfast, the
Inter-Church Reconciliation Fund for Ireland and Derry City Council
who provided us funding. Again, thank you all for coming, and
you can look forward to reading the published report of today's
proceedings in the near future. Thank you all.
Submissions received after the hearing
GINGERBREAD NORTHERN IRELAND
SUPPORTING LONE PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN
In October 1995 the Derry Regional Office of Gingerbread Nl was
opened to offer advice and support to lone parents and their children.
Becoming a lone parent can happen in a number of ways. Many people
immediately think of young single mothers when lone parents are
mentioned. While single (unmarried parenthood does account for
a significant number of one parent families (27.8%), it is not
the only situation. Male lone parents and widows also account
for a significant number, divorced and separated parents account
for the largest proportion of lone parents in Northern Ireland
An example of a person from the latter group could be a 30 year
old working woman who has paid full tax and National Insurance
contributions and as a result of the breakdown of her marriage
finds herself and her children in temporary hostel accommodation.
Present hostel accommodation is not suitable for those who are
forced to give up the privacy and security of their own home and
have to live in one room with their children.
We recommend that self contained flats and houses, which are more
appropriate, are provided. This would give the person a more dignified
change to their situation which would allow them the space to
assess their lives. This would also relieve the added burden of
Another main concern is the lack of child care facilities within
the area. If a lone parent was considering going back to the work
place or training they would face many dilemmas. These would consist
of long waiting lists and high creche fees. The issues in connections
with Registered Childminders also present similar drawbacks. The
only other alternative for lone parents is to depend on their
families for child care but this is not always available. Because
of the problems relating to the child care issue, avenues and
opportunities for employment and further education are blocked
causing the lone parent to be caught up in the poverty trap.
Our recommendation for child care would be that the voluntary,
statutory and private sectors should provide more facilities using
the sliding fee scale. After school and holiday creches should
also be considered. In their forward planning considerations,
the City Council should make child care a high priority on their
agenda. Applications for funding from the Lottery and Peace and
Reconciliation should also be considered by organisations as a
high priority. We also recommend that Social Services should be
more enthusiastic in compiling a list of Registered Childminders.
Another recommendation is that lone parents should be encouraged
to use Registered Childminders, as this could have some financial
There are so many concerns affecting lone parents so we are unable
to mention them all in this paper. The two that we have mentioned
are those that have severe detrimental effects on the issues of
Siobhan Edwards, Michelle Clarke, Fionnuala Breslin, Marie
People suffering from depression and manic depression form a significant
minority in this city. A recent survey by AWARE, a nationwide
organisation helping defeat depression, revealed that 1 out of
every 3 people either had suffered from depression or had a close
family member treated for it. Depression is far from a minor ailment:
it can kill. 15% of those suffering from depression take their
own lives - a rate thirty times higher than that of the general
population. In Ireland, suicide kills more people annually than
Approximately one in ten men and 1 in 5 women will suffer from
depression sometime in their lives. On average, one person with
depression will present at every GPs surgery - yet these people
will attend 8.3 times before their illness is recognised.
Despite depression being the most common psychiatric illness,
it is a hidden disease. Only one out of ten suffering from depression
ever get treatment. People are wary of the stigma associated with
"mental illness" - sometimes too frightened to seek
To suffer depression is a lonely, isolating, often frightening
experience. The first experience of depression can be terrifying
- not just the experience itself, but the fear that you're "going
mad" and might not recover. Depression may return repeatedly
throughout life, or be a one-off event. The person may live in
dread of a re-occurrence. Those who maintain their usual occupations
despite the illness worry about losing a job or a partner in the
future. One out of 2 workers suffering from depression hide it
from employers and work colleagues. With a broken leg, one's pain
and incapacity is visible. Depression is not only invisible, but
often its very existence is denied by friends and family, with
the sufferer told bluntly to "pull themselves together."
This lack of awareness of the serious nature of the illness does
nothing to help; it often makes the sufferer feel guilty for what
is beyond their control.
Derry as a community needs more resources for dealing with this
major public health problem. Although information is a key factor
in helping people successfully survive this illness, sufferers
and carers alike complain about being poorly informed about their
illness and medications. Carers - families/friends who support
us through our illness - are an important group within the depressed
minority. Depression can wreck havoc with family life. Family
members need information about the illness and what to expect
from medications. Children especially can be frightened at a parent's
illness, and even blame themselves for the changes in family life.
They are often left out of the equation when dealing with the
illness. In terms of support, carers are probably worse off than
Depression is a treatable illness. No one need suffer it alone.
Treatment varies with the type of depression, whether it is a
reaction to a life-event such as grief, or triggered by an imbalance
in the body's brain biochemistry. It can be treated by medication,
counselling therapy, self-help groups or a combination of these.
But recovery can be slow. If medication is used, it often takes
several weeks to work. Often a variety of medications will be
tried before success is found. For the 25% of the population who
suffer manic-depression, a lifelong and recurrent illness, treatment
does not always maintain health.
Sufferers themselves and their families are key fighters in the
battle to defeat depression. In recent years an AWARE group has
been formed in Derry which offers support groups for both carers
and sufferers, It also provides factual information through literature,
audio-visual material and extremely well-attended public lectures.
One of its main aims is to increase public awareness of depression
and its consequences. At a national level AWARE support research
into the aspects of depression. Work is also underway to establish
an advocacy network for people using the mental health services.
To this end, a conference is being held in the city from February
29 -March 1st, bringing together mental health care users, professionals
and "purchasers" of mental health care services.
Although sufferers in Derry experience difficulties due to the
profound lack of information about depression, and the stigma
still associated with all mental illness, we are also extremely
heartened by the publics response to awareness events which have
been organised. You will be hearing from AWARE in the future as
we continue to fight depression and help ourselves cope with this
illness and our lives successfully.
Any questions about AWARE, Derry
Contact Gerry Ward, N. I. Regional Organiser, 21 Ardnashee Park,
Derry Well Woman
The original reasons for Derry Well Woman becoming established
were to recognise and deal with problems that many women have
in accessing existing health care services. The ethos of the centre
being to recognise the experience of women in the North West recognising
that women in society are oppressed, whether by class, race, ethnic
origin or political and religious belief. The aims of the Well
Woman Centre include:
a) To provide a comprehensive and accessible service encompassing
a range of women's health issues in a relaxed non clinical atmosphere.
b) To seek more effective ways of preventing and meeting women's
health problems through research.
c) To encourage actively the formation of self help and support
Derry Well Woman support any submissions which aim to empower
marginalised groups within the community whether such groups are
marginalised because of gender, class, origin or religious belief.
A persons physical and mental health is related to the environment
in which he or she lives, the environment includes the condition
of ones housing, levels of unemployment, as well as individual
habits such as smoking, healthy eating, alcohol consumption and
so on as such. The health of any individual is related to society
generally as well as individual habit.
As such we would like to suggest that medical services in Derry
continue to strive to extend their understanding of the specific
health needs of women.
Empowering women to understand the health needs of their bodies
and minds and their partners and/or children's health needs can
only do good for the health of our community.
SUBMISSION BY DERRY CHINESE COMMUNITY
There is not such a big Chinese population in Derry. We estimate
around 200 Chinese who mainly engage in the catering industry
at around 11 Chinese restaurant and takeaways, And of course,
Our main problem is language barrier. Most of us cannot speak
fluent English or daily English. We have extreme difficulty in
getting access to public services, such as health and social services,
benefit agency, housing application, etc. It is, thus, not uncommon
for a young teenager to assist their parents, by means of interpretation,
in order to get access to the services. Moreover, we do not know
most of the services because they have no translated material
on those service provisions.
Due to the Race Relations Act 1976 which enforces in England,
Wales and Scotland, does not apply to Northern Ireland, the DHSS,
the local council and other government departments, etc. are not
obliged to provide interpret and/or translated material on service
provisions. We do hope that the Derry Council and the Western
Health and Social Service Board can provide a Chinese interpreter
for our community so that we can have the same service rights
as the majority in Derry.
Contact person: Johnny Cheung, c/o Chinese Welfare Association
17 Eblana Street, Belfast, BT7 lLD.
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
1. Students complain of verbal abuse when people find out
that they belong to our church and not the main churches. This
results in some of our young people not mentioning what religion
they belong to when they are asked. Although the majority of this
"abuse" would come from other students it has been known
to come from teachers as well, who really should know better.
2. In religious education classes I have been informed of several
situations of concern. There have been incidents where students
have "failed" their R.E. exam because they gave answers
as we understand them. Indeed one girl told me that when she was
at school she was sent from the classroom when she gave a "Mormon"
answer. Another young girl at a local grammar school says that
she has to give the answers that the teacher wants to hear! I
have also been told that our church has been examined in secondary
schools, probably as part of the curriculum. Unfortunately the
reports I have received are that the information passed on to
the students are mainly inaccurate. In an attempt to solve this
predicament I have written to all the secondary schools in Derry
asking if we can help with their courses either to consult with
the teachers, give presentations, have question and answer sessions
or give them any literature that they might need. To date I have
had a very poor response with those who have responded saying
that their teachers can give a balanced lesson even though, from
our point of view, we have evidence to the contrary. A continuation
of this "education" of the children in our area will
continue to leave a new generation with a jaundiced view of our
Recommendations :1. Integrated schools and colleges are
obviously a good idea although there are a lack of places for
such schooling in Derry. Perhaps a better understanding of all
churches could be taught in schools if not in R.E. classes then,
perhaps, in General Studies. As a parent I certainly would have
no problems with my children getting a better understanding of
other faiths especially if it meant listening to a representative
of each church. It should only lead to a better relationship,
one with another. The worst that could happen is that someone
who has a problem with people from another religion e.g. Catholics
"hating" someone because they are Protestant or vice
versa, at least they have a reason why, rather than just plain
bigotry! If proper Christian principles are emphasised then this
scenario should never happen.
2. It has been my experience that a lot of information being taught
about our church, and probably with other minority churches, has
been gleaned from publications written, invariably, by, in our
case, anti-Mormon critics. To me, it is a shame that any Church
being discussed are not given the basic right and courtesy to
reply. Personally, if a church is willing to contribute (at no
cost) to the education process in the manner outlined above I
see absolutely no reason why such a resource is not utilised.
It could only result in a better and proper understanding for
At this point in time we are pleased to report that we have
not, as far as we are aware, not been subjected to any discrimination
in this area. One point we would like to bring out is the practice
of asking which primary school people attend in determining the
religion of a person. This, seemingly, decides whether a person
is Catholic or Protestant. I don't need to point out that there
are more than Catholics and Protestants, of which we are neither,
living in the area.
Recommendation. We would much rather the simple question
of "What religion are you?" be asked.
Unfortunately our church land and building are continually
on the receiving end of mindless vandalism. We get graffiti on
the walls which results in us having to repaint the building at
a considerable cost. It is to be repainted again shortly but how
long will it remain graffiti? The tiles on our roof are the target
quite often for young people to pull off and smash. Two repercussions
of this are that rain has got into the building a) ruining part
of the roof and b) completely wrecking the wooden recreation hall
floor. Lastly, hardly a Sunday goes by but we have to sweep away
glass from broken bottles which have been thrown onto our driveway
and car park. Many of our people now park outside the building
rather than risk the chance of burst tyres.
Recommendation. I'm not sure what can be done about vandals
(Perhaps the re-education talked about earlier would lead to a
reduction of the problem some time in the future). On a more practical
note, would the council be prepared to use one of it's vehicles
to clean the glass from the drive and car park from time to time?
1. Our members regularly get involved with charities in the
area, knitting blankets for the children's wards in hospitals,
helping with flag days or whatever, and do not seem to have any
problems being accepted by the charities. The same cannot be said
for the missionaries which we have in Derry. For example, we have
an elderly couple here from California for a short while. They
are expected to give service on a voluntary basis to the community
while they are here. They approached a local organisation who
were urgently looking for volunteers to help out. Initially the
organisation were very happy to see them. However when they gave
their names as "Elder and Sister" from our Church they
received a phone call a couple of days later saying that they
were not wanted because of the church connection Our younger missionaries
have had similar problems trying to give service in the area.
These 19 and 20 year old's have been told they were not wanted
when they were simply trying to be of service. We feel sure this
was because they were "Mormon missionaries".
2. Our members have found that when they have tried to serve in
various community committees that these have been very "Catholic"
or "Protestant" biased. Consequently they have left
as they felt they were "banging their heads against a brick
wall". Our members are happy to work with others in their
communities. Unfortunately these committees are what politicians
would call pluralistic in nature, i.e. dominated by the main churches.
There is no doubt that organisations such as the Churches Trust
do a wonderful job but I am sure I speak for all the minority
churches when I say that we too would like to contribute and be
involved in community affairs and concerns. 3. Some of our members
have commented on the lack of non drinking, non-smoking family
oriented recreational facilities in the area.
Recommendations: Encourage council, community and other
organisations to be more aware of minority interests in their
area and perhaps offer the opportunity of input via personnel
on a committee or written submissions to the decision making process.
Regarding point 3; perhaps the planning department could encourage
and be more sympathetic to plans for such amenities.
1. Elsewhere in the world and particularly in the U.S.A. we
have an excellent relationship with other churches. For example
in Salt Lake City where our church has it's headquarters (incidentally
there are now more Catholics in Salt Lake City than "Mormons"),
leaders from the various churches interact together at the highest
level and give support to one another. Our President and other
leaders can often be seen sat next to the Catholic Cardinal and
other church dignitaries at civic and religiously oriented meetings.
Our Church donated $1 million dollars towards building the Catholic
Cathedral there. The Jewish people wanted to hold a special meeting
there recently but their buildings were not large enough. Our
church let them have use of one of our buildings as a gesture
of friendship and co-operation. We do not find the same type of
interaction here, probably due to our minority status. Again we
would welcome the opportunity to get involved with other churches,
hopefully to our mutual benefit.
2. As a missionary oriented church (we have over 50,000 missionaries
world-wide) we have young men and women in the area whose job
it is, to teach people what we believe in. I don't suppose that
we will ever totally eradicate the problem they have of having
doors slammed in their faces or the verbal abuse they get. However,
sometimes when they have taught someone about our church and they
decide that they want to join, they can be put under enormous
pressure from their minister to prevent them from getting baptised
into our church. In itself, there is nothing wrong with that.
Our objection is when our church is slandered in the attempt.
Instead of reasoning from a doctrinal point of view, which would
be our method, our church gets pilloried and, for want of a euphemism,
lies are told in an effort to put the people off their decision
to join us .
3. Our members do a lot of genealogical research. Some ministers
will not allow our members to look through their records of christening,
marriages and burials. Other people are permitted but not "Mormons"
Recommendations: Where appropriate, encourage main church
ministers to consider approaching minority church leaders with
an invitation to join in meetings to discuss issues of mutual
interest, similar to the way the 4 churches interact. Church ministers
to encourage their clerics to be more open minded and tolerant
if any of their parishioners decide that they want to become members
of another church. Church ministers to be encouraged not to discriminate
between people when asked to open their records for consultation.
In the past there have been occasions when we submitted stories
to the press for inclusion in their paper which have been turned
down with the excuse that their wasn't room in a particular edition.
This may well be true(?) on the odd occurrence but the articles
were never printed on subsequent editions. We wondered about this
situation! Consequently, I suppose wrongly in our case, we don't
submit stories anymore to the publications in question.
Recommendations: The press to be more sympathetic to minorities
submitting stories. In relation to what has been said throughout
this submission, perhaps one or more of the local papers might
print a series of articles on all the churches in the Derry area
outlining their history and some of their beliefs. We would be
happy to work with the papers to collate information and articles
for them from the various churches and present it to them for
final editing and publishing. This would be a great opportunity
for the people of Derry/Londonderry to come to a better understanding
of one another.
Noel McCloskey, Sensory Support Service User
and member of the Deaf Community.
As part of a deaf community and on behalf of the deaf community,
we have experiences which can be very painful and isolating. Deafness
is an invisible handicap until communication comes into play,
it makes deafness a significant handicap.
A lot of people have mental health problems. Hearing people have
many more resources, more information and can discuss things with
their G.P. or their family more easily than many deaf people can.
It is important that deaf people have access to good communication
when they go to their G.P. There is no easy communication at all
but communication is the key to diagnosis and to helping any mental
health problem. So there is the communication issue itself but
also there is a question of privacy. People can take an interpreter
but that may not be totally satisfactory and taking a relative
may make the situation very difficult. People need to have a private
understanding and private counselling and that can't be done if
there is no communicating language.
There is a problem of mis-diagnosis for deaf people and in past
led deaf people into the back wards of big hospitals for many
years, with no proper diagnosis or communication. What happens
now seems to be the diagnosis is missed. When deaf people have
an illness like schizophrenia because doctors and psychiatrists
have so little knowledge of the deaf language, culture and experience
it is easy for them to dismiss a deaf person who is very troubled
as well. They are deaf and that is it. Unfortunately, a lot of
doctors and psychiatrists have served deaf people quite badly
because they are not aware of the cultural and linguistic issues
of deaf people's experience. They see it purely as a medical problem.
I spend a lot of time with groups of psychiatrists and doctors
about deaf issues - the video is just part of a whole pattern
of outreach and educational awareness work we are trying to do.
We have to ask what do we really mean by the bi-lingual. We
mean that the deaf should be free to use all the communication
methods. Fortunately some teachers could use sign language and
that is how I gained my knowledge. I believe that it should be
compulsory to use sign language. I believe teachers should be
able to get more practice in being bi-lingual, because it is much
easier and relaxing for the children to learn. It is a strain
for the children to lip read - it is for the parents benefit and
not for the children.
More school leavers courses should be run, for example courses
on drama, leadership and computer technology. Deaf people can
lead a full life and hope for better education, for new pride
in their culture, their language and their community.
Deaf people can do almost any job, but when they get one,
they are often relegated to semi-skilled and unskilled work
Panelist's written reflections
The public hearing on minorities was fascinating, with many diverse
individuals and groups giving eloquent and succinct submissions.
Some raised a number of important practical suggestions, such
as Sally Morrison reading from her Braille text who advocated
for the removal of obstacles on the pavement, and large print
cheque books and prescriptions. Others, such as in the presentation
of a young gay man, sketched out an imaginative picture of how
they would like society to be different. Both types of presentation
dramatically conveyed the different visions of the world which
exist, challenging the idea that we must accept some sort of defining
vision as determined by the simple numerical majority/minority
considerations. This point was forcefully made by Brendan McKeever
in his very moving submission on his role as a parent of a child
with a disability. He explained how his relationship with his
child had changed his view of the world right down to his use
of language around disability. I particularly welcomed his assertion
that the need to assimilate to the majority vision is not what
true social inclusion means.
While the issues raised were diverse, there were uniting themes,
such as the fear from violence of certain minority groups, the
experience of discrimination, and the lack of accessible information
and services. One idea which could be explored as a possible starting
point in creating a more inclusive society is that of a Bill of
Rights. While it would not answer all problems, it would provide
a starting framework. Furthermore, as the public hearing itself
demonstrates, a wide ranging consultation process around its content
would help to give shape to a different type of society and a
pluralism of voices that are often excluded from conventional
political debates. For many of the people making submissions,
the fact of having a public forum was important, and the day represented
a celebration of difference and of a wide but often obscured activism.
In conclusion the definition of a "homeless person"
which I referred to in my closing remarks in the submission from
Foyle Homeless Action and Advice came close to articulating an
embracive vision of inclusion and esteem.
Such a place, such a city, would indeed be the kind of city we
The public hearing highlights the following issues:
(1) There is a huge unmet social need in each of the minority
groups in Derry.
(2) Both the PAFT (Policy Appraisal on Fair Treatment) and TSN
(Targeting Social Needs) have not addressed those issues highlighted
by each minority group in the hearing. We must request the Northern
Ireland Office to re-examine the impact of PAFT and TSN towards
the minority's needs and further request the government to develop
concrete policy with the consultation and participation from minority
(3) We must also request the Derry City Council and any other
government and non-government agencies, organisations, etc. which
have direct work in Derry to implement PAFT guide-lines and TSN.
(4) In relation to discrimination against gay and lesbian group
by the majority in Derry, the church should take a more positive
step to listen to their problems in conjunction with reconciliation.
(5) In relation to discrimination against the minority protestant
community in Derry, the Catholic community must listen to their
problems, fears; and must recognise their tradition and cultural
(6) If equality to all and equality of treatment are our underlying
principals, those discrimination against each minority group must
be redressed in terms of resources allocation to the minority
groups, educate the public, policy documents, and grassroot consultation
and participation from the minority groups.
First of all may I say thank you to Templegrove Action Research
Limited for the opportunity it gave me to sit on the panel at
Wednesday's meeting. My thoughts and conclusions are as follows:
Starting with the three religious minorities, one main factor
came across very strongly and that was the need for total integration
in our schools. For all of us to have a knowledge of other people's
religions, and for us all to have a better tolerance of other's
religions. The way this could be achieved is as stated by integrated
schooling and for children to be taught that there is not just
Catholic or Protestant religions in this country, but that there
are many more. One thing brought up in the submission from the
Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, is that on employment
application forms one is asked which primary school did you go
to. I would strongly support President McCready's recommendation
that the question should be re-worded to ask what is your religion,
as in the rest of the U.K. After all when we go into hospital
and they wish to know your religion, the question is what religion
are you, not what school did you go to.
Now to the minority with the largest majority in this country
- the people with disabilities. 17.4% of the adult population
of this country has some form of physical disability, this does
not include children with a physical disability or those with
sensory impairment or mental impairment known as learning disabilities.
The 17.4% of the adult population relates in real terms to 201,000.
We should not forget in real terms if we included the children
and those with learning disabilities and sensory disabilities,
this would account for over 300,000 individuals. But if the M.P.'s
and town planners, those who plan housing services and any other
service provider look at it in a realistic manner, it is 300,000
family units that would be effected and that is over a quarter
of the population of the province.
All planners need to take this into account. For instance, if
those in the private housing market would start building lifetime
homes which could adapt as needed, for example, are built without
steps, (as are already being built in other parts of the U.K.),
think how much easier it is for a mother with a young family and
a baby in a pram to get the children in and out of the houses.
Each of these homes are built with a downstairs wheelchair accessible
toilet, all door widths are 900mm wide, it would so much easier
to move furniture around. If somebody wished to purchase such
a house and later became somebody who needed to use a wheelchair
it would be so much easier to put a through floor lift into such
a home. These homes are being bought by ordinary every day young
couples thinking of starting a family, although nobody in the
family, is at present living with a disability.
As we go about our every day lives we must learn to accept that
not everyone has the same opinion as ourselves and we all need
to live together in this country as best as we can. So a great
part of this tolerance is down to education, whether it be in
the home or at school, through integrated schooling or through
the parents. We as a society have a part to play, to teach out
children that there is no need to hate somebody because of what
religion they are or how they look, because children learn from
their peers, no matter whether they are family or not, and we
must ensure that the bigoted attitudes of the past must no longer
(collected at the hearing in comment books which were located
throughout the hall.)
Traffic in Littlewoods and Wellworth's area do not sound their
horns for the deaf or the blind to let them know they are behind
It's been fab! Anonymous
It's been great to see so many of us here. I hope we have it more
often in Derry. Thank you.
Good to hear other people's thoughts, feelings and points of view.
A great idea - contributes to progressive societal change towards
Very well organised, some powerful submissions, an exercise in
people power - give people a voice.- Congratulations.
David Holloway, Project Portadown.
I found the hearing to be a very positive event from beginning
to end. It was wonderful to hear groups raising issues that so
often escape the agenda in social, political, industrial situations.
I hope that the diversity in discrimination that was reflected
will produce the impetus to strive for a society that appreciates
differences in religion, political belief, age, ability, sexuality
and race. Thank you for allowing these often undervalued groups
the opportunity to voice their concerns.
Catherine McNee Family Centre, Gobnascale
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