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Equality at the heart of Government - McGuinness

23 October, 2007

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA opened the Equality Commission Annual Conference in Belfast today.

Speaking at the conference Mr McGuinness outlined the government's plans for achieving an equal, shared and inclusive society for all.

The deputy First Minister said:

"The programme for government which will be published shortly will place equality and rights at the heart of government. My Department will bring forward detailed plans to promote the interests of the whole community towards the goal of creating a prosperous settled society.

"Some of this work has already begun, including the introduction of new age and sexual orientation legislation. New duties have been placed on public authorities to promote positive attitudes to people with disabilities and to increase their participation in public life.

"Government is committed to publishing the anti poverty and social exclusion strategy to tackle deprivation based on objective need. Gender action plans are being prepared and work on social inclusion focusing on older people and people with a disability is already under way."

This year's conference held in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast marked the fact that 2007 is the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. The chosen themes for the year - Rights, Representation, Recognition and Respect will from the basis of the conference.
In closing the Minister said: "We are fully committed to a vision for the future for all of the people who live here. A future based on tolerance, equality, sharing mutual respect, and respect for the rule of law.

"We are working towards building a society at ease with itself, a society where everyone who lives here, is regarded with equal status and is treated as such." ENDS

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