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‘New strategy must be founded on Equality’ - SF

27 January, 2009 - by Maeve McLaughlin

'New strategy must be founded on Equality' - SF

Equality must be the foundation of any new strategy to end sectarianism and racism in the North, Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has insisted.

The party's Equality and Human rights spokesperson was speaking following an Assembly debate today (Tuesday) on the proposed new strategy for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration to tackle sectarianism and racism.

"The motion proposed in the Assembly today expressed concern at the delay in publishing the CSI document and Sinn Féin share those concerns," Ms. Anderson commented.

"We recognise that there is a need to develop a policy framework in order to support, co-ordinate and strengthen the good work that is already going on within our communities - work that Sinn Féin activists are involved in on a daily basis.

"But while we are concerned at the delay, we recognise that it is important to get a strategy that will be effective on the grounds. That means it must be founded in genuine equality and inclusion and if it means waiting a little longer to get a strategy that works, then so be it.

"It's also important to realise that the delay is not affecting the delivery of funds towards groups and organizations which are currently involved in this work, as the current funding mechanisms have been extended for a further year until a CSI programme is in place.

"The good relations/CSI budget has been increased in the Assembly budget from £21m to £28m - an increase of 33% on the previous administration. Funding to support the integration of minority groups has increased from £600,000 in 2007 to £1m last year and £500,000 has been provided to help steer young people away from interface violence.

"I welcome the increase in allocation towards cohesion, sharing, and integration. We must be reminded that we have had many so-called good relations policies in the past which blatantly failed to achieve anything by way of positive change for our people.

"One of those policies was "Shared Future" and all it ever achieved was the creation of a 'good relations' industry where countless quangos sucked up millions of pounds in public money.

"Shared Future" refuses to even acknowledge the reality that sectarianism was actively promoted by both the unionist regime and the British state. The securocrats who dreamed it up did so to airbrush their own role in the conflict from the history books. Instead, they would have us believe that the conflict took place simply because Catholics and Protestants refused to live together.

"Unfortunately this policy still continues to influence some of those in public office which is why we see the prioritising of artificially engineered 'mixed' communities over the objective needs of our people for social housing.

"Sinn Fein's position is clear. The allocation of housing and the administration of any government policy should be done on the basis of need, not creed.

"It was for that reason that we opposed the motion and the amendment and it is for that reason that we will continue to oppose all efforts to administer public policy based on the flawed Shared Future agenda. Any programme for Cohesion, Sharing, Integration must be founded on Equality."

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