Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Concern at attempts to undermine Equality Agenda

7 February, 2005

Sinn Féin Equality Spokesperson, South Down MLA Catríona Ruane has expressed concern that the British government is acquiescing to unionist attempts to "rewrite, redefine and undermine the equality agenda" after NIO British direct rule Minster John Speller announced an extension of the review into labour market statistics under pressure from unionist politicians.

Ms Ruane said:

"Whatever about perception the fact remains that John Speller has buckled to unionists pressure. Sinn Fein is concerned that is the outworking of the long-term strategy of unionists to rewrite, redefine and undermine the equality agenda.

"Any assessment of equality of opportunity must be based on objective fact and objective fact alone.

"The reality is that 10 out of 15 of the most disadvantaged wards are nationalists.

"Within the Catholic community a greater percentage of children live in workless households, more pupils leave school with no qualifications or no GCSE's. Only 61.2% of the Catholic population of working age are employed compared 71.2% of the Protestant population.

"It is same across many other sphere's of life from ill health to housing.

"There is a statutory equality duty on government to target resources on the basis of need. That is not being done and will result in the unwarranted and discriminatory skewing of resources even further away from nationalist areas.

"While I recognise that there has been progress in tackling poverty across all communities and many important battles have been won any attempt to target resources on the basis of perception and not on the basis of evidence should be resisted. Representation in the workforce has improved but again Catholics, women and nationalists are still severely underrepresented at higher levels within the civil services where policy decisions are taken, within the judiciary and in many other areas of employment.

"Sinn Féin believes that the British government is not just in default in failing to live up to commitments to tackle inequality both between and within the communities but that they are complicit in undermining the equality agenda." ENDS

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