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de Brún urges new European Presidency to prioritise fight against racism and homophobia

3 July, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today urged the Finnish Presidency of the European Union to work to combat both the rise in homophobia and racism across the European Union.

Ms de Brún made her comments as Finland assumed the Presidency of the European Union at the weekend from Austria and begins its first full working day in office.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

„Finland has now assumed the Presidency of the European Union and has an important role to play over the next six months. Sinn Féin is keen that this European Presidency starts to prioritise the issues of both racism and homophobia.

"Just last month, the European Parliament debated these issues and MEPs had clearly shown that these issues need to be dealt with at both national and EU levels. As a starting point, politicians and political parties across Europe should sign up to the European Protocol on Political Parties and Racism and actively work on the commitments contained therein.

"I want to back the calls by the ŒEquality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in Europe‚ group (ILGA), who have called for the development of measures which adequately addresses hate crime in line with the European Parliament resolutions which I supported last month.

"People across the Six Counties are acutely aware of the effects of hate crime, particularly in the summer months, at the peak of the marching season when sectarian attacks reach their peak. In addition, attacks upon migrants and settled members of ethnic minority communities continue.

„The Finnish Presidency of the European Union has an opportunity to address all of these issues and take a lead in combating all forms of discrimination and hate crime. Sinn Féin believes that if the EU begins to focus on these issues then we can use this platform upon which to advocate equality and respect." ENDS

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