The high levels of deprivation and lack of a ‘peace dividend’ in the Bogside and Creggan are hampering attempts to move away from paramilitarism, according to a new report completed as part of the outworkings of the ‘Fresh Start’ talks.
Last winter Co-operation Ireland and academics from Ulster University and Queen’s interviewed a range of people in the Brandywell and Creggan as part of The Executive Office’s Tackling Paramilitarism Action Plan.
It has now reported and its headline findings are stark but unsurprising.
Some participants complained that the TPAP was “founded on party political considerations and had predetermined outcomes” and, as such, was alienating an important constituency.
Others worried that paramilitary attacks were not confined to Creggan and that the “programme has unfairly singled out Creggan and Brandywell”.
One of the obvious concerns highlighted in an area with among the highest unemployment rates in the North was that “social and economic conditions are at the forefront of people’s minds, many arguing that the absence of a ‘peace dividend’ has compounded the legacy of underinvestment experienced by large parts of Derry”.
There was an apparent consensus, however, that the number of people committed to political violence was falling but that “the problem of criminal elements operating on the fringes of paramilitary republican groups remains”.