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DUP challenged to commit to equality agenda - McGuinness

10 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness, who was nominated as Deputy First
Minister, has challenged the DUP to work within the Programme for Government
Committee to deliver a programme that can protect the rights of all, that
can tackle key issues such as educational disadvantage and will ensure that
rural communities are not left with reduced access to key services.

Mr McGuinness said:

"The joint and equal nature of the Office of the First and Deputy First
Ministers requires the clear development of a shared agenda. It requires a
genuine commitment to delivering equality for all and protecting the rights
of all. Fundamentally it requires pro-active leadership.

"This means that when it comes to respecting the equal rights of all, which
means that regardless of religion or political opinion that the rights of
people, for example, regardless of sexual orientation are protected. It
means that there is a collective response to the attacks on our rural
communities and a commitment to ensuring, for example, that rural
communities have a safe level of fire service cover.

"It means that in partnership we address issues such as educational under
achievement, and numeracy and literacy problems that affect socially
deprived areas, particularly in Protestant working class areas in Belfast on
the basis of need.

"However, it is clear that the DUP have yet to fully commit themselves to
the agenda of equality and rights for all. This is a challenge for the DUP
within the Programme for Government Committee. It is a challenge that
requires all future parties of government to fully engage in setting out a
programme for a future Executive that will make a real difference to the
lives of all our people, people who are suffering under continuing British
direct rule interference in the running of this part of Ireland." ENDS

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