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McGuinness calls for disabled people to be counted in democratic process

22 October, 2008

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has praised efforts to increase participation by those with disabilities in the democratic process.

The Minister was addressing the 'Count Us In' Democracy Event, organised by Disability Action, which was staged in the Europa Hotel, Belfast.

The project, funded by the Electoral Commission, aims to:

  • Increase disabled people's awareness of the democratic process
  • Increase the political participation of disabled people and
  • Enhance the skills and confidence of disabled people in playing a more active role in the electoral / decision making process

Mr McGuinness said:

"Democracy, equality and the rights and entitlements of all members of our society are at the very core of what this administration seeks to promote.

"The old, the young, and those from the various ethnic minorities can all feel that they have less involvement than others influencing decisions and decision makers. This can also apply to people with disabilities.

"We must make it a top priority to address this situation.

"Disability Action and the Equality Commission have set up seven working groups, spread across the North, to investigate how best we can encourage and facilitate greater involvement, by disabled people, in the decision making processes of government

"At today's conference I know you will be hearing the findings of these working groups and considering how best to take that work forward.

"I wish them well in their endeavours." ENDS

Note to Editors

  1. Disability Action has been delivering the Count Us In democracy project, funded by the Electoral Commission for the last two years.
  2. The conference brought together all the Democracy working groups that have been working in local areas including, Belfast, Derry, Newry, Ballymena, Bangor and Fermanagh. The groups have been engaging with MLA's at a local level and raising issues that are of concern to them in their local area such transport, housing and employment.

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