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Ruane to debate equality with Dermott Nesbitt

25 February, 2005

Sinn Féin South Down Assembly Member Caitríona Ruane will engage in a public debate organised by Community Dialogue with Ulster Unionist MLA Dermot Nesbitt on the equality issue. Ms Ruane challenged Mr Nesbitt to a debate after objecting to his recent comments in which he claimed Catholics living in the north of Ireland do not face discrimination.

Speaking ahead of the debate Ms Ruane said:

"Part of the current Unionist agenda is to propagate the claim that the Protestant community is subject to increased levels of discrimination while at the same time perpetuating the myth that nationalists suffer little or no prejudices.

"While I accept that many Protestants live with disadvantage and poverty any objective analysis of the facts show that the Catholic community are disproportionately at risk in terms of housing, unemployment and ill health.

"Attempts to distort this reality only make it more difficult to target poverty, social need and discrimination in urban and rural areas on the basis of objective need.

"It is a position that is designed to undermine and discredit the equality agenda in an attempt to prevent real and lasting change. I welcome therefore, the chance to debate this issue publicly with Mr Nesbitt which will give us both the opportunity to get to heart of the debate about equality, discrimination and disadvantage." ENDS

Note to editors

Caitríona Ruane MLA will debate equality issues with UUP MLA Dermott Nesbitt on Saturday 26th February starting at 10am in the St Patrick's Centre in Downpatrick under the auspices of the Community Dialogue.

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