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Gerry Kelly meets New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi

12 November, 2003

Gerry Kelly has welcomed the visit to Belfast and Derry this week of a delegation being led by New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi who is here to take assessments from a range of political parties, government agencies responsible for investment, the Equality and Human Rights Commissions, NGO's and community sectors regarding how equality and fairness is being progressed.

Speaking after the meeting with Alan Hevesi in North Belfast Gerry Kelly said:

"Obviously I am delighted to welcome Alan Hevesi and his delegation to North Belfast to discuss both the political situation and the growing disparities and inequalities that continue to affect communities despite the range of government policies supposedly focussed on tackling the gap between the rich and the poor.

"Clearly as some S15 billion of New York State and New York city pension fund money is invested in US companies here on the basis that they must comply with fair employment practices and the MacBride principles, Mr Hevesi evidently has a vested interest in establishing whether or not equality and fairness is being progressed in the workplace in general and society overall.

"Mr Hevesi recently expressed concerns that the approach of the Human Rights commission could potentially undermine fair employment monitoring provisions. Sinn Féin have expressed similar concerns and have raised these with the Human Rights Commission and the Council of Europe experts who recently visited Belfast. It is our view that any interference with, refinement of or redefinition of these protections is unacceptable in a society where clearly disparity in the overall workforce still prevails. Existing employment protections should be strengthened not diluted. We will explore this and a range of other matters with Mr Hevesi with a view to continuing this dialogue on an ongoing basis." ENDS

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