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Sinn Féin sets out proposals for three new Departments in the Six County Executive

16 February, 2004

Sinn Fein Assembly group leader, Newry Armagh MLA Conor Murphy has confirmed that Sinn Féin is proposing the establishment of three new departments in the Six County Executive as part of the Review of the Agreement. Two new departments for Equality and Policing and Justice are both consistent with the Good Friday Agreement, the third - a Department for Children and Young People ˆ is a long standing Sinn Féin objective and was raised as far back as the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Commenting on the proposals Mr Murphy said:

"The lack of movement, especially on the central question of equality, is a massive issue. Today there are still the same levels of poverty in nationalist areas and the gap between nationalist and unionist communities has not altered significantly despite more than ten years of the peace process and five years of the Agreement. If anything it now looks as if we are going backward. It is for this reason that Sinn Féin has identified the need for a Department of Equality as an important step in delivering on the equality agenda.

"Similarly the new beginning to policing and the ongoing bias within the Judiciary demand a new Department of Policing and Justice so that we can take power out of the hands of the securocrats and bring about real democratic accountability.

"Sinn Féin has also been consistent in advocating a Department that is cross cutting and deals with all of the issues affecting young people and children.

"To remain consistent with the Good Friday Agreement Sinn Féin is seeking a review of the existing ten departments with the firm view of ensuring that there remain ten departments in total, as outlined in the Agreement." ENDS

Note to Editors

There are strong arguments for amalgamating the Department of Education with the Department of Employment & Learning (including Higher and Further Education), with some functions on training and employment being transferred to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

There are also strong arguments for the amalgamation of the Department of Regional Development and the Department of Environment.

Similarly the proposals could see the Department of Social Development being scrapped altogether with functions being transferred to Regional Development/Environment (e.g Housing & Regeneration); Health, Social Services and Public Safety (Benefits); the new Equality Department (social regeneration); and Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Sinn Féin has also made a number of recommendations for expanding existing areas for All Ireland co-operation including the Implementation Bodies as well as identifying new areas for co-operation and new Implementation Bodies.

A greater emphasis in some areas particularly with new Implementation Bodies would relocate departmental functions, expenditure and civil service staff outside of the traditional departments into the All Ireland bodies that would be directly accountable to the All Ireland Ministerial Council and through them to the Assembly and Dáil and governed by a new All Ireland Charter of Rights.

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