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BBC should explain why it opposes equality provisions

24 June, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Equality issues Caitriona Ruane has challenged both the British government and the BBC to declare publicly why they are opposed to the organisation becoming subject to the statutory equality duty (Section 75). Ms Ruane's comments come after the British Minister John Spellar wrote to Sinn Féin to confirm that he has decided not to designate the BBC.

Ms Ruane said:

" It is a welcome move that the British government have designated another six public bodies to come under section 75 provisions. This has come about after work by Sinn Féin and others. However the decision not to designate the BBC is wrong and will have far reaching implications.

" The BBC is without any doubt one of the most influential public bodies in the six counties. Nationalists and republicans have expressed serious concerns over many years about the manner in which the BBC operates. People will be shocked and angered that the British government has exempted the BBC from conforming to the same basic statutory equality provisions which other public bodies have to abide by.

" I am demanding that both the BBC and the British government tell us what they are trying to hide by exempting the corporation from Section 75. Why is the BBC resisting equality provisions.

" This decision will have the effect of increasing nationalist and republican suspicions of the agenda and direction of the BBC in the six counties. However, Sinn Féin will not be letting this matter drop. We will continue to meet with the British government on this issue and we will continue to press the British government to ensure that the BBC eventually are brought under the same equality provisions as other public bodies." ENDS

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