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Equality Key priority for Gildernew

31 January, 2008


Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA and Section 75 representatives have addressed an equality event organised for DARD senior managers.

The 'Equality is the Business' event, hosted by DARD Equality Branch provided senior staff with the opportunity to talk to key Section 75 representatives about equality outcomes which are at the core of the Programme for Government, Investment Strategy (ISNI) and Budget proposals and what this means in practice for DARD.

Speaking at the event yesterday the Minister underlined her Department's commitment to equality, saying:

"Equality is a key priority for me and indeed there are many reasons why this is so. I have a firm belief that it is good for business. Good for the business of not only my department, but that of all departments, and should also be at the heart of government.

DARD has already a good track record in promoting equality of opportunity and in tackling the issues of disadvantage and social inclusion. Today is an opportunity for us to consider how we build on this success and plan for the future to ensure that equality remains at the fore in everything we do."

Commending the Department on its approach, Evelyn Collins, Chief Executive, Equality Commission said:

"The Commission was pleased to be involved in today's event and welcomes the proactive approach by the Department to their Section 75 duties. We look forward to working with Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure further effective implementation of Section 75."

Bronagh Hinds, Senior Research Fellow with the School of Governance, QUB who facilitated the event said:

"This workshop to develop the department's leadership capacity on equality is timely as the Minister and her officials take forward spending plans on agriculture and rural development for the next three years of the new Programme for Government. A senior staff team that is committed to achieving results is crucial, and the initiative signals departmental efforts to ensure that equality is integrated more successfully in the future across all its business commitments."

Monica Wilson, Chief Executive of Disability Action in whose premises the event was held said:

"We are pleased to welcome the Minister and senior members of the department to Disability Action. This event gives a strong indication of DARD's commitment to equality and human rights and we believe sends a message to other government departments."

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The workshop was attended by 30 members of DARD staff together with representatives of the voluntary sector and other government departments.

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