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Mary Lou McDonald to address EU Parliament calling for 2007 to be designated European Year on Equal Opportunities for All

12 December, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP will tonight address the European Parliament to voice her support for calls to designate 2007 European Year on Equal Opportunities for All.

Ms McDonald said that she was "committed not just to the concept of equality of opportunity but to equality of outcome".

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"All people should be entitled to full social, economic and cultural equality. This encompasses the equality of all people on this island irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, marital or family status, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic status, or political or religious affiliations.

"Societal inequality is not a natural phenomenon but a direct result of power inequalities and Sinn Féin wants to play its part in changing all of this. That is why I want to endorse the calls to designate 2007 the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. The fact that this idea has been suggested at all is recognition that inequality is rife within society.

"In Ireland, we are still coming to terms with the legacy of British rule and the continued partition of our country, along with decades of discrimination in the electoral process, in housing, employment, policing and the judiciary. Celtic Tiger Ireland should have been a success story for all of the Irish people, yet we remain one of the most unequal societies in the EU despite being the wealthiest.

"The reports focus on both migrants and women is commendable.

"A European year must be about much more than raising awareness regarding discrimination. Equality legislation alone will not succeed in tackling the deep-rooted inequalities that exist without the political will of politicians, policy-makers and others to grasp the nettle and comprehensively tackle discrimination." ENDS

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