[Sinn Fein]

5th March 2003

Government has obligation under GFA to introduce statutory duty into equality laws

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Human Rights Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh, has called on the Government to introduce legislation to make promoting equality a statutory duty. The Dublin South Central TD made his call in the Dáil today during the Order of Business, citing the Government's obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: ``While we are discussing the peace process obligations of various parties, we must not forget that there are obligations in the Good Friday Agreement on equivalence of equality provisions in the Six and 26 counties. Wales and the Six Counties now have statutory duty provisions that specifically came out of Good Friday Agreement commitments, but this state still has none.

``Given that the Programme for Government claims that full implementation of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement is the Government's ``TOP PRIORITY'', I am calling on the Minister for Justice, Equality, and Law Reform to ensure that the promised Equal Status Amendment Bill includes provisions on statutory duty, or else to introduce new legislation to this effect.

``For years now Sinn Fein have been saying that we need legislation in this state to provide for equality-proofing of law, policy, and budgetary decision-making ? legislation that will make promoting equality a statutory duty. This is an act of completion under the Good Friday Agreement that the government has absolute control over and therefore should progress without delay.''

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