‘EQuality In2 Action – EQIA’
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA has today publicly launched the party's 'EQuality In2 Action - EQIA' campaign.
Mr. Adams told a press conference at Parliament Buildings that Sinn Féin intends "targeting disadvantage, discrimination and poverty by maximising the effectiveness of the Statutory Equality Duty and the Equality Impact Assessment process.
The press conference was also attended by Martina Anderson MLA, DARD Minister Michelle Gildernew, and Junior Minister Gerry Kelly.
Mr. Kelly MLA highlighted the important progress made in the Executive in securing agreement on carrying out Equality Impact Assessments on the Programme for Government, the Budget and the Investment Strategy.
Mr. Adams said:
"Sinn Féin work on the principle that inequality is bad for society. That equality is for everyone. That people have the right to fundamental civil and human, cultural and religious, economic and political; rights and freedoms. Achieving this and ending inequality in all its forms is a key objective for Sinn Féin.
"There is a lot of jargon around the legal processes involved in targeting disadvantage and discrimination.
"I have to confess at times I am uncomfortable with some of this jargon. For example, EQIA, which means Equality Impact Assessment, is the practical application of Section 75, the statutory equality duty which is intended to promote equality.
"These are now part of the legal framework - they are law.
"It is the use of mechanisms which now exist in law to challenge inequality.
"The most recent example of this was seen in the Executive's decision to have the Programme for Government, the Budget and the Investment Strategy assessed centrally to see how they impact on the most marginalized people in our society.
"This means that government policy and the money it spends are being scrutinized to ensure that they are applied and used in the best interests of all citizens. This is significant progress which will ultimately benefit everyone. Sinn Féin would not have support these measures without this agreement.
"I also think that the DUP and the UUP should be commended for accepting this equality obligation. Many unionists now realize that equality is in the interests of their constituents.
"It is about tackling child poverty; it is about ending inefficiency within the health service; it is about ensuring that there is a proper and fair housing programme.
"Incidentally, the three Sinn Fein departments, Education, Agriculture, and Regional Development, all completed their own focused Equality Consultation on the Draft Programme for Government which assisted for example, in securing more money in the final Budget for children and young people, and for youth services.
"So, EQIA can make a difference in the quality of peoples daily lives. For years we were told it wasn't possible to do this. We have shown that it can be done.
"It is important that everyone, including statutory bodies, voluntary agencies, NGO's, community groups, and individual citizens understand the purpose of EQIAs and how they can be used to benefit citizens." ENDS