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Human and financial cost of hatred is high: Bell

September 23, 2004 12:00 AM

SPEAKING after it was revealed that the Housing Executive spent £45 million last year to rehouse families forced from their homes by intimidation, Alliance Spokesperson for Victims Eileen Bell MLA stated:

"The cost of hatred is high, both in terms of the injury and emotional distress caused to victims, and in financial terms. I would be surprised if it took less than £1 billion per year to pay for the costs of sectarianism and to cater for the segregation it leads to.

"However, a major concern is this fixed idea that it is the victim of intimidation that is expected to leave their home. The sad fact of living in a society numbed by paramilitarism and prejudice is that those responsible for causing fear and forcing people from their homes are rarely caught.

The Alliance Party Deputy Leader, who was forced from two homes in the past herself because of paramilitary intimidation, continued: "Unfortunately, sectarianism, and now racism, and the intimidation they lead to are so commonplace that these incredible human and financial costs that we are all bearing have become 'acceptable losses' that we write off.

"But this is one bad debt that society cannot wipe out without making the effort to deal with fundamental issues such as community relations. When our political leaders go off to talks to restore devolution, they are keen to remind of us their principles, but they fail to show the leadership that sends out the message that it is possible that we can build a united community."

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