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Sinn Féin equality proofing bill seeks to tackle our unequal recovery – Cullinane

9 June, 2016 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on workers’ rights, David Cullinane TD, has today moved an equality proofing bill which is designed to reduce inequality in government policy implementation.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“We continue to see increases in inequality and poverty, and there is growing evidence highlighting the impact economic policies are having on disadvantaged groups since the beginning of the economic crisis. Today we are into a deeply unequal recovery with sectors of our society left behind by the effects of these policies.

“This Bill amends the existing legislation and aims to provide for equality proofing of government policy and budgets and public bodies through impact assessments. Its aim is to promote equality in public bodies, and to provide for equality impact assessments of measures that are likely to have a significant effect on the equality of opportunity.

“Equality Budgeting has been internationally accepted as a means to effectively deal with inequality and poverty. Worldwide there are over 60 countries that have adopted or are working toward equality budgeting, such as the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Tanzania and Uganda.

“The time has come for Ireland to follow suit and make a stand and provide a more just and equitable society for all. By using equality budgeting we would be ensuring that equality is placed well and truly at the centre of any decisions concerning public expenditure and income.

“The existing Equal Status Act 2000 relates to discrimination based on the following nine grounds: Gender, Civil Status, Family Status, Age, Race, Religion, Disability, Sexual Orientation, and Membership of the Traveller community.

“The Sinn Féin Equal Status (Equality Proofing) (Amendment) Bill 2016 seeks to add new anti-discriminatory categories to the existing nine. These include; trade union membership, socio-economic background, Irish language speakers, rural dwellers and former political prisoners who served their sentences before the Good Friday Agreement or were released as part of that agreement,

“The Bill seeks to introduce Equality Impact Assessment schemes for each government department which will monitor what negative impact any new measure, policy and budget will have on all anti-discriminatory categories and how each department they intend to better achieve equality of opportunity. This would be compulsory and will be monitored by the Equality Authority for compliance.

“The Government and public bodies have a responsibility in reducing the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.”

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