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Equality Authority plan welcomed but key challenge is getting Government to implement recommendations

6 February, 2006

Speaking after the launch of the Equality Authority's 3rd Strategic Plan today Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, welcomed the plan, which aims to emphasise 'positive action' and 'grounds-specific projects' over the next three years. In particular Deputy Ó Snodaigh welcomed the Authority's objective of contributing to the further development of a strategic framework for action on inequality including the use of legislation to tackle discrimination and promote equality. However, the Dublin South Central deputy said the key challenge would be to get the Government to implement the Authorities recommendations.

Criticising the Minister for Justice for refusing to accept the need for any further legislation in the area of equality Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "When launching this report today McDowell argued that this state has one of the best and most comprehensive codes of equality legislation in the world and he claimed that comparative analysis shows this to be the case. However, had he read the report 'Equivalence in Equality' published by the Equality Authority and Equality Commission just two weeks ago he would see that a simple comparison between equality provisions here and provisions in the Six Counties demonstrates that this state falls short of satisfying the equivalence commitment contained in the Good Friday Agreement.

"Attempts by Junior Minister for Equality Frank Fahey last week to try and side step the recommendations in that report so as to avoid having to make the necessary legislative changes with regard to disability, public function, political opinion, positive duties and the treatment of transsexual people and gay and lesbian are contemptible. Minister Fahey claimed the shortfalls existed in the opinion of the report's author alone and was not the view of the two equality bodies. This is absolute nonsense as the recommendations were clearly highlighted and signed by the Chairs and CEO of the Equality Authority and Equality Commission.

"It is ironic that Minister McDowell, a self-professed believer in inequality, launched the strategic plan today which aims to embed equality in all aspects of Irish society. In his speech the Minister indicated that the decentralisation of the Authority to Roscrea would be the key challenge it faces in the near future. I beg to differ - simply getting this government to recognise, let alone implement, its recommendations, will remain the greatest challenge facing the Equality Authority." ENDS

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