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Cross border initiative will promote racial equality - McGuinness

3 October, 2007

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA has commended two border councils for their efforts in promoting racial equality.

Launching the 'Challenge of Change' event in Newry Mr McGuinness said that the initiative by Newry and Mourne and Louth Councils was one which provided a cross border focus to overcoming barriers faced by ethnic minority populations in both areas.

In particular the project aims to enable many of the recent immigrants to access public services.

"The events of May 8th and beyond have provided this island with the prospect of an unprecedented era based on tolerance, equality and mutual respect.

"We are engaged in building a society in which all cultures and traditions are afforded their place. This applies not just to the two main traditions on this island but equally to the many and varied traditions which are increasingly becoming part of the fabric of our communities.

"It was no accident that the first event that I and the First Minister hosted in Parliament Buildings was a celebration of the contribution made to our society by our ethnic minorities.

"There is no stronger vote of confidence in our new society that so many people from so many different parts of the world are opting to make this island their home.

"It is therefore incumbent on us to ensure that the talents and contributions that these newcomers bring to our shores are nurtured and cherished.

"Initiatives such as that which we are launching today are a concrete demonstration of that ambition. Making sure those who are new to our society are afforded every opportunity to avail of the services that exist not only benefits them but will hopefully enable them to make an ever increasing contribution to the communities in which they live." ENDS

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