[Sinn Fein]

5th March 2003

Sinn Fein Equality Conference highlights need for political will

Over 100 people from across the equality constituency - the community and voluntary sectors and the statutory agencies attended the Sinn Fein Equality Conference on `Measuring Equality Since the Good Friday Agreement' held at Stormont today (Wednesday 5th March).

Speakers included - Joan Harbinson - Chief Commissioner, Equality Commission; Kate Hayes - Chairperson, Equality Authority; Dr Joanna McMinn - Director, National Women's Council of Ireland; Tim Cunningham - Equality Coalition; and Bairbre de Brún - Sinn Fein MLA

Speaking after the conference Sinn Fein Equality Spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA Dr Dara O'Hagan said:

``There is a consensus that while there have been some important steps in advancing the equality agenda that there remains a substantial amount of progress to made before we can say that close to the commitments and vision contained the Good Friday Agreement.

``There are key actions which are required to bring the momentum back into the full implementation of the equality agenda but perhaps more importantly, speakers from across the equality constituency identified political will as the key to progress. It is increasingly apparent that a lack of will has crept into the equality agenda coming predominantly from within the Unionist political parties and a dead hand from within certain departments and their civil servants.''

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