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Unionists poorly represented in Bill of Rights debate because of poor leadership

7 April, 2008


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, Martina Anderson MLA speaking ahead of an Assembly debate on the Bill of Rights and the Human Rights Commission tomorrow, Tuesday 8th April, has said that unionists have been poorly served by their political representatives.

Ms Anderson said:

"Unionists have criticised what they call 'the lack of unionist representation' on the Bill of Rights Forum. I echo those concerns. Huge swathes of the unionist population have not been adequately represented in the debate on the Bill of Rights. But that's not because a lack of representatives on the Forum. It is because of the abject failure of both the UUP and DUP to stand up for the rights of ordinary hard working unionists.

"Both the DUP and UUP opposed the right to a decent standard of living, including the right to adequate food, water, fuel and clothing.

"Both parties voted against the right to a home that is safe and affordable and the right to enjoy a fair wage and proper working conditions.

"The DUP and UUP opposed the right to be free from slavery and forced labour. They could not accept the right to a sustainable, healthy and safe environment or the right to an adequate pension.

"The unionist politicians need to explain to the community, whose interests they claim to represent, why they do not support any of these recommendations. Why they failed to support the right of their people to decent wages, a decent home and even a fair trial.

"While you fully expect unionists to oppose issues such as recognition of the Irish language and equality it is difficult to understand why they are opposed to the right to a decent pension.

"A strong Bill of Rights will provide a powerful tool to make a huge difference to the lives of all our people. This isn't about republican rights or unionist rights. It is about a legal framework that will protect the rights of all equally.

"So what do the DUP and UUP fear? Don't they want their people to have equality or prosperity? Don't they want their people to have a better future?" ENDS

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