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Sinn Féin welcome decision to scrap Fire Service standby maps

30 March, 2005

Sinn Fein's Spokesperson on Equality, Human Rights and Women Caitriona Ruane MLA has welcomed the decision by the Fire Brigade who have been forced to scrap their 'standby map' policy.

Ms Ruane said:

"This policy was designed to include predominantly unionist towns like Craigavon and Portadown so anyone from these areas would be eligible for senior positions within the Fire Brigade yet at the same time it conveniently excluded large swathes of the nationalist population who live in places like Belfast, Downpatrick, Newcastle, Armagh and Newry. It was through the determination of people like John Allen who had been prevented from accepting a promotion because he lived in a town outside of the standby map area that the Fire Brigade have been force to abandon their policy."

"I believe this decision is a victory for equality and we are now waiting to see what the brigade comes up with and we will continue to pursue this matter with the same vigour and determination. This is a historical development because the Fire Brigade has historically been one of the public sector bodies that seem to be exempt from proper scrutiny."

"This development should serve as a warning for all public authorities in the North about the implications of them failing to embrace public equality duties. For too long the brigade has been a cold house for Catholics, particularly at a senior level, and I want to commend the bravery, determination and far-slightness of those fire-fighters who have fought against discrimination in the brigade."

"The policy of stand-by maps was an attempt to exclude members of the Catholic community yet it effectively discriminates against anyone living outside of these designated areas. I have held meetings with senior officials of the Fire Brigade but it is clear there is someway for it to go befo

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