Derry was the starkest example of anti-Catholic discrimination in the northern state.
The overcrowded Bogside
A third gerrymander in 1936 ensured that the nationalist majority could elect only eight of the 20 members of the Corporation. Nationalist voters were corralled into one of three electoral wards – the overcrowded South, covering the Bogside and Brandywell. A smaller number of unionist voters in the North and Waterside wards could elect twelve.
To give someone a house was to give them a local government vote. Preserving the sectarian arithmetic that ensured continued unionist rule was the key factor in who was housed and where. All housing allocation was in the hands of one person – the unionist mayor. When space in the Bogside ran out, construction of Creggan began in 1947, on a high windy hill unsuitable in all respects – except its location within the South Ward. Neither the Catholic Church nor the Nationalist Party offered vigorous opposition: the arrangement kept Catholics clustered around their “own” schools and churches. Between 1945 and 1960, 92 per cent of all houses allocated to Catholics were within the South Ward.
Derry also suffered from massive discrimination in employment. Unionist politicians directed industries to unionist areas. The average unemployment rate for the north was 8 per cent. It was much higher in nationalist areas. In Derry it was well over 20 per cent.