Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Responsibility on Executive to build a new society which guarantees equality

22 May, 2007

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, Foyle MLA has said that is the responsibility of the Executive and Assembly to build a new society which guarantees equality for all in a shared future.

Speaking in the Assembly debate on the Single Equality Bill, brought forward by Sinn Féin Ms Anderson said:

"In our society we live alongside discrimination and exclusion - everyday. Some of the barriers that inhibit our development as individuals, communities - can be blatant or unseen. Women for example continue to suffer discrimination in gaining employment, in salary levels, in the workplace - and under-representation in public life.

"We not only have the obligation but the power to put in place an equality framework that looks to our future needs as a developing and increasingly complex society.

"The fragmented array of legislative instruments that exist here in the North, which applies different standards of protection across the discrimination strands, has proved difficult, confusing and costly for individuals seeking to assert their rights and similarly for employers and service providers seeking to understand and observe their legal obligations. Indeed, confused law is no law at all.

"The legislation that we have, is a hotchpotch of different Acts that need to be brought together into one composite bill; bringing together all the separate, cross cutting Acts and setting clear protections against discrimination of all groups, especially our children.

"We need a robust conciliation and interpretation of the different pieces of legislation - bringing them together, harmonising and enhancing provision - upwards - so we produce a Rolls Royce of Legislation.

"It is no protection against discrimination, that the law simply declares discrimination to be illegal, and leaves the burden on the victim to bring justice for themselves, or their peer group. An effective anti-discrimination Act must stipulate, in enforceable law, what positive action needs to be taken to ensure that discriminatory practices cease.

"It has long been recognised that an equal/same treatment approach will never be enough to deliver substantive equality, and by that we mean equal outcomes, because people/groups do not start from the same place. Because of discrimination and disadvantage suffered by certain groups - the playing field is not level." ENDS

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