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Commission’s claim that ‘Equality must wait’ is unacceptable – Anderson

6 May, 2009 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin’s equality spokesperson, Martina Anderson MLA, has called for the Equality Commission to retract comments suggesting that the promotion of equality is ‘dependent’ on economic prosperity.

In written evidence before the OFMdFM Assembly oversight committee today, the Equality Commission claimed that “economic prosperity and equality of opportunity are mutually interdependent”.

Speaking at the OFMdFM Committee, Ms Anderson described the Commission’s position as “unsustainable and unacceptable”.

Ms Anderson said:

“The Equality Commission’s position that the promotion of equality can only happen ‘dependent’ on economic prosperity, is unacceptable and unsustainable.  The flip side of the Commission’s argument is that economic prosperity is somehow ‘dependent’ on equality.

“Yet the facts prove that is nonsense.  We’ve had ten years of economic prosperity across this island in which the levels of structural socio-economic inequalities have become worse – not better. 

“The gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' has actually increased.

“Of course, as the Executive’s Programme for Government indicated, economic prosperity can offer greater opportunity to promote equality.  But the promotion of equality must happen anyway – regardless of the economic conditions.

“Equality cannot – and must not – wait.  Those who were ignored during the economic boom cannot now be further sidelined during the economic bust. 

“Equality must not be relegated to a distant mirage in some new economic dawn.”


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