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Sinn Féin welcome new hate laws but asks if the measures are enough

10 February, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Racism, South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey MLA has welcomed the introduction of new laws on racism, sectarianism and homophobia but questioned whether the new laws on sentencing are enough.

Mr Maskey said:

"New laws on sentencing must be welcomed. However, it is becoming increasing clear that the bias in of Justice System must be addressed, particularly in relation to sectarian crimes.

"These laws do not go far enough. We also need to tackle the issue of incitement to hatred.

"Legislation on its own will also not help us tackle the evils of racism, sectarianism and homophobia. We need a radical overhaul of the Criminal Justice System with particular attention on the sentencing patterns of local judiciary because the reality is unionist paramilitaries continue to be handed down lenient sentences.

"Delivering the new beginning to policing that was promised in the Good Friday Agreement and a policing service without the malign influence of Special Branch at its core would go a long way to delivering a police service that is capable of tackling racism, sectarianism and homophobia.

"We also need resources put into initiatives that challenge racist, sectarian or homophobic attitudes and that support these communities that are under threat from such attitudes." ENDS

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