Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin publish Equality platform

20 April, 2005

Speaking at the launch of the Sinn Féin Equality platform the party's Equality, Human Rights and Women's Spokesperson, South Down Westminster candidate Caitríona Ruane has said that the rights of those seeking full equality in our society is being consistently undermined by policy makers and by direct rule British ministers.

Ms Ruane said:

"More than 35 years after the Civil Rights Movement launched its campaign to highlight the nature of structural discrimination in housing, voting and jobs these same issues remain at the core of continued inequalities."

  • Thirty-five years on, according to latest statistics, nationalists are:
  • More likely to suffer from poverty
  • Less likely to be in employment
  • More likely to be unemployed
  • More likely to be among the Long-term Unemployed
  • At greater risk of living in lower income households and/or being dependent on benefits and
  • At greater risk of experiencing multiple deprivation

"The entrenched inequality within the northern state is such that more than 35 years later we are still evidencing these same patterns of inequality.

"Sinn Féin wants an end to second class citizenship and an end in the mindset of policy makers who despite equality legislation and equality mechanisms like the Equality Commission, pay lip service to eradicating poverty and undermine the equality agenda.

"Sinn Féin is committed to challenging and exposing inequalities and to ensuring that regardless of class, creed, nationality, origin, martial status, disability, religion, or sexuality that people's rights and entitlements are secured.

"Poverty, discrimination and marginalisation must be challenged and eradicated.

"While the peace process has made a marked difference in several other aspects of people's lives there is still a considerable distance to travel to achieve full equality.

Ms Ruane went on to call for and end to the undermining Good Friday Agreement obligations by policy makers and public bodies who are doing the minimum to implement it. She called for a strengthening of the Equality Commission in the time ahead.

She said:

"The many differentials that exist within our society are to be comprehensively tackled. Public bodies, policy makers and direct rule ministers must apply the equality legislation to the maximum. This approach is also required of the Equality Commission which needs to use its powers to robustly challenge discrimination. The British government's latest bid to downgrade the Equality Commission by recruiting for a part-time Chief Commissioner is further evidence of its undermining of the equality agenda.

"Sinn Féin will challenge discrimination in all its guises. We will work to secure the rights of all communities and sectors within our society who continue to experience inequality and discrimination.

"This demands:

  • A comprehensive and adequately resourced all-Ireland anti-poverty strategy
  • Putting Targeting Social Need on a mandatory statutory footing to ensure that resources are directed to areas of greatest social need
  • Compliance by employers with affirmative action measures
  • Ensuring that the Single Equality Act is harmonised and provides the fullest anti-discrimination protection for all citizens and sectors in society
  • Enhanced monitoring mechanisms to measure outcomes of policies

Sinn Féin South Belfast Westminster candidate Cllr Alex Maskey MLA added that taxation justice to fund equality is a fundamental principle in Sinn Féin's commitment to achieving full equality.

Mr Maskey said:

"The tax system is fundamentally unjust and biased against those on low and middle incomes. It does not raise enough tax overall to pay for effective public services.

"The scandal is that inequalities persist in an affluent economy. We have the resources to deliver but this does not happen. There is sufficient wealth in our society to ensure that, at the very least, no child should want for the basics of life and should be able to look forward to a full and rewarding future. The lack of vision and the incompetence and conservatism of successive governments have robbed generations of children of their future.

"Sinn Féin's priorities are designed to tackle immediate needs and the most extreme inequalities. A comprehensive approach is required to move towards an Ireland of Equals. Prioritisation of those most in need is a must.

"It is essential to reform and re-weigh the taxation system in favour of the low paid and to increase the overall tax take by targeting wealth, speculative property and corporate profits to fund improved social provision.

"Every year hundreds of millionaires and thousands of high earners pay no income tax at all. The tax system must be reviewed, reformed and restructured to increase overall tax take, social spending and infrastructural development. This must be based on equity and efficiency.

"A start should be made. Measures could include:

  • Ending tax avoidance schemes for the super rich
  • Increasing Capital Gains Tax for owners of multiple residential properties.
  • Creating a 50% tax band for incomes in excess of £100,000.
  • Taking the low paid out of the tax net." ENDS

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