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Status of the Single Equality Bill

13 April, 2007

Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights spokesperson and Foyle MLA Martina Anderson speaking after meeting with Officials from the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister on the status of the Single Equality Bill has said that equality should be promoted more positively.

Ms Anderson said:

"Equality should be promoted as a positive, proactive concept, containing both a commitment to the prevention of discrimination and to the promotion of those who have suffered disadvantage as a result of institutionalised discrimination and disadvantage.

"The Single Equality Bill must live up to the requirements of a society, which is not only emerging from years of conflict but ,which also paves the way in producing the strongest equality protections possible against discrimination in all its many aspects for all citizens.

"Under Direct Rule Ministers there were inherent limitations and a lack of political will within the system to advance the equality and anti-discrimination agenda.

"I want to explore with the officials ways in which the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister could explore ways in which the Single Equality Bill could come under the auspices of the All-Ireland Ministerial Council in joint partnership with the relevant minister in the South to ensure equal rights throughout the island.

"The Northern state was founded on a sectarian headcount and maintained by inequality and discrimination against its Nationalist population. We must ensure that such a system that allows one section of the community to make policy for another can never occur on this island again. Given Derry's experience of Gerrymandering and the resultant discrimination experienced by all its citizens we can testify to the devastating effect of inequality. In addition to the blatant discrimination west of the Bann by successive administrations Derry also suffered economical disadvantage due to its links to its natural hinterland in Donegal being severed by partition. This created and sustained inequality on a political, social, economic and cultural level." ENDS

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