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Deputy First Minster committed to building a diverse and equal society

17 June, 2008

The Sinn Féin deputy First Minister today joined PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde and An Garda Síochána Commissioner Fachtna Murphy at a conference exploring key issues surrounding living and working in a diverse society.

Opening the conference entitled 'Cross Border Partnerships in Multicultural Communities' in the City Hotel in Derry, Mr McGuinness spoke of his vision of a society based on tolerance, equality and respect where diversity and difference is valued.

He underlined the Executive's commitment to embracing the development of a diverse and equal society while recognising that challenges existed.

He said:

"Bringing those to account who perpetrate hate crime is the responsibility of police and justice systems. However tackling the beliefs and attitudes which drive and sustain hate crime is the responsibility of us all. Let us be clear there can be no hiding place, no ambiguity, and no acquiescence to any form hate crime.

"The First Minister and I are working towards building a society at ease with itself - a society that is integrated, cohesive and where diversity is valued. Where everyone who lives here is regarded as of equal status and is treated as such."

The conference is a joint initiative organized by the Foyle Multicultural Forum, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Síochána to explore the issues surrounding living and working in a diverse society.

Mr McGuinness went on to emphasise the importance of working in partnership while maintaining a continual dialogue to share experiences and good practice.

He said:

"Through the process of conflict resolution we have learnt that dialogue is more than talking to someone. Dialogue is more than just speaking; it is about listening, absorbing, respecting and reflecting.

"Intercultural dialogue is about moving beyond mere tolerance of difference towards a transformed society where cultures can exchange and interact constructively with mutual respect. The future that we are building here for all people must be founded on intercultural dialogue at every level of society." ENDS

The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister is currently working on bringing forward detailed proposals for a 'Programme of Cohesion, Sharing and Integration for a shared and better future' which will build on the solid foundation established by the 'Racial Equality Strategy' and the 'Shared Future' documents.

Notes to Editors

The conference in the City Hotel, Derry was a joint initiative organized by the Foyle Multicultural Forum, the PSNI and An Garda Síochána.

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