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Sinn Fein put discrimination on Newtownabbey Council under the spotlight

11 April, 2006

Speaking after over 60 MLAs, councillors and political activists from across the Six Counties held a protest outside Newtownabbey Council offices today, Tuesday 11th April, at 12 noon to highlight the ongoing discrimination of unionists against nationalists on the council as part of the 'Smash Discrimination Anois' campaign.

Speaking after the protest Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights Ms Caitriona Ruane MLA said:

"The challenge is for unionists to demonstrate that the are able and willing to share power with nationalists on the basis of equality. There is no place for discrimination in any form anywhere within our society. It is time that unionists acknowledged this and moved to embrace equality for all and also the principles of power sharing.

"Unionists on Newtownabbey have an appalling record of discrimination against anyone who does not fit into their view of the world. Unionist control of Newtownabbey Council has been one of dominance where minorities have been excluded. This is the start of a particular focus on Newtownabbey Council. Sinn Fein will be putting Newtownabbey under the spotlight."

Sinn Féin Newtownabbey councillor Briege Meehan said:

"The attitude of unionists on Newtownabbey council is one of total disregard for the political mandate for nationalists. This is not acceptable. There is a civic responsibility on all elected representatives to embrace equality and power sharing.

"The union flag flies over all council buildings 365 days of the year in direct violation of equality guidelines to ensure that such buildings are neutral.

"There are also no council amenities in nationalist parts of the council such as Glengormley and an examination of the council employment practices, where 87 per cent of council staff are Protestant also highlights what are serious problems within the council.

"The personal abuse handed out by unionists and the absolute refusal to adopt power sharing also show just how far unionists on Newtownabbey have to travel before there can be confidence that they accept that discrimination and bigotry must be consigned to the history books" ENDS

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