Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Discrimination cases must be funded

19 September, 2003

Following a meeting with the Equality Commission and Sinn Féin representatives yesterday the party's Upper Bann representative Dr. Dara O'Hagan has called on the British government to "ensure that legal aid is properly resourced to provide the bulk of financial assistance for people taking discrimination cases."

Dr O'Hagan said:

"We have been extremely concerned that over the past year the Equality Commission has cut back dramatically in funding discrimination cases. We believe this has sent a message to some employers that they will not be held accountable for discriminating against their employees.

"The current reality is that the Equality Commission will only take forward cases that are likely to bring about changes in the law leaving the bulk of citizens who face discrimination with limited opportunity to seek redress.

"At our last meeting with John Spellar we called on him to bolster legal aid to the level required to ensure that those discriminated against can avail of financial assistance to take cases forward.

"Discrimination in all its manifestations has been a blight on this society for too long.

"If we are in the process of trying to create a fair society here and put the legacy of discrimination behind us then the British government must properly resource the mechanisms designed to tackle discrimination and look towards practical ways to do so." ENDS

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