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Welfare Minister challenged to ensure that future legislation is equality proofed

4 June, 2007

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Welfare Rights, Newry Armagh MLA Micky Brady has challenged Margaret Ritchie to ensure that all future legislation coming from the Department of Social Development undergoes a full Equality Impact Assessment.

Mr Brady was speaking after Ms Ritchie brought forward legislation on the Welfare Reform Bill that had not undergone a full Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA). The legislation is undergoing accelerated passage.

Mr Brady said:

"It is only in exceptional circumstances that any Minster should seek to bring forward any legislation for accelerated passage because it does not allow for proper debate or scrutiny.

"The Assembly debated this legislation earlier this year and the SDLP along with other expressed concern at the impact of it.

"However, what Minsters in the new Executive need to recognise is that the practice that developed under British direct rule of not conducting proper Equality Impact Assessments has to end.

"These assessments ensure that no legislation has an adverse impact on any particular section of our society. The challenge for Margaret Ritchie, and indeed all Ministers, is to ensure that they do not bring any more legislation forward that has not been properly scrutinised and where there has been no full assessment of the potential to discriminate against anyone." ENDS

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