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Sinn Féin to raise concerns over erosion of Equality agenda with Equality Commission

18 May, 2006

A senior Sinn Féin delegation including party general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, party Human Rights and Equality spokesperson Caitriona Ruane and West Belfast MLA Fra McCann will meet the Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive of the Equality Commission today, Thursday 18th May, 3.15pm in Belfast to voice serious concerns at the erosion of the Equality Agenda.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Ms Ruane said:

"Recent political decisions taken by the NIO and British direct Rule ministers raise very serious questions about their commitment to the equality agenda. Elements within the senior levels of the civil services are clearly attempting to bypass and therefore undermine the equality duty, which is a key component of the Good Friday Agreement.

"This has given rise to a number of policy decisions that will reinforce inequality and discrimination. Polices that have the potential to make the greatest impact on the ground are not being tested against the criteria that was designed to ensure that discrimination is comprehensively tackled.

"Sinn Féin are also concerned that the Equality Commission appears unwilling to raise concerns about the erosion of the equality agenda publicly with the British government.

"Sinn Féin have specific concerns about the attempt by British direct rule ministers to sectarianise poverty. This is unacceptable. Poverty must be approached on the basis of evidence and on objective need only, and not filtered through a unionist prism." ENDS

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