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Minister for InJustice biggest threat to equality in this state

26 March, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has accused the Government and the Minister for Justice of being "the biggest threat to equality in this state." Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking as the Equality Bill 2004 came before the Dáil for a second stage reading today.

He said, "this Government, led by its Minister for Injustice and Inequality is seeking not to enhance the baseline equality protections achieved under the Good Friday Agreement which will benefit us all, but instead to roll back what was gained in pursuit of their war on a rights based society. This Equality Bill implementing three EU Equality Directives which we called for and could have welcomed, is deeply flawed. It not only fails to fully and properly transpose the Directives, it is actually regressive. As but one example, it legislates for racism at Section 49. This Bill violates the EU Directives, the Strand Three commitments under the Good Friday Agreement, Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and our international obligations. There is no doubt it will be challenged in court.

"This comes at the end of a long list of measures which have targeted for discrimination people with disabilities, Travellers, immigrants and lesbian and gay people. Their record in office proves that Government and this Minister in particular have become the biggest threat to equality in this state."

Drawing particular attention to the Minister for Justice's latest call for a referendum on citizenship Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Now he wants to go even further by subjecting our citizenship laws and constitution to ethnic cleansing in his proposed racist referendum. This is not acceptable and we will fight back."ENDS

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