Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Equality and Human Rights debate must learn the lessons from our experiences

4 February, 2004

Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane, attending a major conference in London today in the run up to the British Governments' white paper on establishing a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights in England, has said that there are many important lessons to be learnt from the way the Equality and Human Rights Commissions have been established here.

Ms Ruane said:

"This is an important opportunity to debate the many issues that have arisen here about the way in which our own Equality and Human Rights Commissions were established. The white paper coming from the British Government proposes the establishment of a single commission dealing with human rights and equality. Sinn Féin believe that there are many important lessons that human rights and equality activists across the world can learn from the mistakes that have been made here.

"Given the difficulties that exists here with the two Commissions it is vital that from the outset that issues around the appointments procedures, appropriate powers and resources are addressed in order to create an body that can be an effective instrument of change.

"Unfortunately our own experience regarding the Human Rights and Equality Commissions in the North show only too clearly that unless these issues are addressed that bodies are created that are ineffective and can indeed undermine the process of change and the advancement of equality and human rights.

"Sinn Féin will be raising our serious concerns within the Review of the Agreement about how both the Equality and Human Rights agendas have been frustrated and undermined here, largely as a result of a failure by the British government to live up to commitments it made in the Good Friday Agreement and in the many discussions since then." ENDS

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