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Sinn Féin approach to equality can be seen in its pre budget submission - Ó Snodaigh

24 November, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking at a conference organised by the Equality and Rights Alliance today Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh his party's approach to equality can be seen in its pre budget submission which, if implemented, would yeild even greater savings than the government targets without a single cut to social welfare or public service jobs.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The Equality Agenda is a Sinn Féin priority on a par with the Unity Agenda. Over the past ten years, we have evolved extensive and detailed commitments to rights-based governance as can be seen from all our policies, our election manifestos, our track records in the institutions and in our community engagements. Most recently, this has been given expression in our pre-budget submission, which outlines a viable alternative road to economic recovery yielding even greater savings than the coalition government targets without a single cut to social welfare or public service jobs, by taking an approach premised on the intrinsic social value of increased economic equality and the protection of fundamental economic and social rights. I urge you all to read it and to support its recommendations.

"Our approach to strengthening the equality and human rights in Ireland and in this state in particular is primarily guided by the treaty obligations imposed on the Irish Government by the Good Friday Agreement. Three of these have particular relevance to this jurisdiction. First, the equivalence obligations that Colm Ó Cinnéide has analysed so persuasively in his 2005 opinion commissioned by the Equality Authority. Second, the provision to conclude an All-Ireland Charter of Rights, and third, the related commitment to a Bill of Rights for the North – which holds the potential to create a model superior to the 1937 Constitutional provisions, and in doing so exert upwards harmonisation pressure on the 1937 Constitution in the context of the equivalence obligations and the All-Ireland Charter. Of course, we are not content to stop at the Good Friday Agreement provisions. We also have a long track record of commitment to equality and human rights-proofing of all law and policy including budgets, to the extension of grounds on which discrimination is prohibited by law, and to ensuring that Ireland keeps pace with the evolving international human rights treaty architecture.

"In conclusion I want to commend the ERA’s approach as expressed today. In crisis there is opportunity. We need to stop fighting rearguard actions in defence of what was already achieved and instead go on the offensive to realise maximum outcomes for equality and human rights for all people living in Ireland. Sinn Féin stands ready to join with you in doing so." ENDS

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