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Sinn Féin call for scrapping of legislation that discriminates against ex-prisoners

14 February, 2007

Sinn Féin Equality & Human Rights spokesperson and South Down Assembly election candidate, Caitriona Ruane has called for the scrapping of legislation, which allows employers to discriminate against former prisoners.

Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn Féin has been following the case involving the Simon Community and its unlawful discrimination against two former political prisoners with close interest. I raised this issue with the Equality Commission only last week in the context of encouraging the Commission to continue to support this vital test case through to the Court of Appeal and the European Court itself if necessary.

"Sinn Féin believes that Article 2(4) of the Fair Employment and Treatment Order that specifically excludes protection from discrimination to a political opinion which supports the use of violence for political ends - allowed the Simon Community to withdraw their original job offers. The recent court challenge found that the Simon Community was in breach of its own recruitment and selection procedures so it is difficult to see how a Tribunal could have allowed Article 2(4) to stand given the highly subjective way it has been used in this case.

"Sinn Féin believes that Article 2(4) should be scrapped. It is highly subjective and evidently open to further possible abuse by other employers not only against former prisoners and indeed against anyone should employers feel safe enough to invoke this article.

"This case has also highlighted the need for the forthcoming Single Equality Bill to contain new anti-discrimination ground to protect former prisoners from such discrimination in employment and other areas of public life where their rights continue to be denied." ENDS

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