Equality and anti-discrimination laws needs to be strengthened – Fearon
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon said today that equality and anti-discrimination laws in the north need to be strengthened.
The party’s equality spokesperson was speaking after a report by the Equality Commission on public awareness around equality issues.
Megan Fearon said:
“I welcome the Commission’s report on awareness of equality.
“It’s concerning that the report has identified ‘a number of groups who were less likely to be aware of the areas and grounds covered by anti-discrimination law’.
“In particular, the report outlines that people over 65 years, people with a limiting disability, those with no qualifications, those living West of the Bann, those with the lowest average household income and people living in rural areas are ‘less aware’ of their rights under anti-discrimination laws.
“The report has also identified that people on an income of less than £15,000 per annum lacked awareness regarding their rights and entitlements to education, accessing public/support and other services; and property.
“In the north we have a number of anti-discrimination laws including laws on; equal treatment; discrimination; equality of opportunity and fair participation. Some of these laws have been in existence for over 20 years.
“However, nearly half of the respondents said that ‘equality and anti-discrimination laws need to be strengthened’ in the north of Ireland.
“At the moment we have no equality act, no bill of rights and there are concerns about the potential for the human rights act to be repealed.
“The report also highlights that the majority of people believe there are benefits to a more equal society and that more needs to be done to promote equality of opportunity.
It is Sinn Féin’s view that more needs to be done to ensure those who are most vulnerable, marginalised, discriminated and isolated can claim their rights and have the support to do so."