[Sinn Fein]

13th September 2002

No exemptions from equality law - Ó Snodaigh

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Minister of Justice, Equality, and Law Reform to show leadership, and make a firm public guarantee that he will not cave in to pressures for exemptions from equality legislation to allow discrimination against Travellers. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``The calls for exemptions made by politicians including Minister McDowell's party colleague Noel Grealish are outrageous and irresponsible racist nonsense. Amending equality legislation to allow for discrimination against some groups would render the law meaningless and totally unacceptable. We need a firm, public guarantee from the Minister that this will not happen.

``Deputy Grealish stands in violation of the Anti-Racist Protocol for Political parties, and I question his motivations in further aggravating this situation. Given that they have signed the Anti-Racist Protocol along with the rest of us, I trust the Progressive Democrats will take immediate, unmistakable steps to sanction him, and to prevent recurrences.

``Public order problems are adequately catered for under public order legislation, which should be enforced and applied equally by the Gardaí regardless of a person's ethnic background. Sinn Fein will strenuously oppose any attempts to water down such equality legislation as exists, and will continue to actively champion the right of all people in Ireland to avail of its protections under all nine grounds.''

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