[Sinn Fein]

12th January 2003

Implementation of Equality and Human Rights Agenda essential to the Good Friday Agreement

Sinn Fein Human Rights and Equality Spokesperson. West Belfast MLA Bairbre de Brún has described the need for the two governments to fully implement the Human Rights and Equality elements of the Good Friday Agreement as a fundamental part of the current talks process.

Ms de Brún said:

``Equality and Human Rights must be at the heart of any successful implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Resolving the failure to implement these areas of the Agreement is a central component of restoring the momentum of the Agreement and overcoming the present impasse.

``Sinn Fein has put Equality and Human Rights high on the talks agenda. We want to see substantive movement in the coming weeks on social and economic equality, the rights of vulnerable communities, language rights, victims and the process for taking forward a Bill of Rights. These will be discussed in the coming days as we face possibly the most crucial period in our history.

``Sinn Fein have raised these issues in detail, and we now need to see what progress can be made in implementing these key areas of the Agreement that to date have witnessed little progress. We will carry this forward in our discussions this week.

``We need to see timetabled monitored measures to eliminate the differential in unemployment rates between the two communities and we need to see economic development targeted towards areas of greatest need. We also need to see the protection and vindication of human rights and particularly the rights of vulnerable communities. The Human Rights Commission needs sufficient powers and funding to enable it to effectively carry out its remit and we all need to work on the process for taking forward on a Bill of Rights.

``The clearest way to see progress on these and other measures needed is for the two governments and all the local political parties to reaffirm the commitments made in the Good Friday Agreement and to work together to ensure the lull implementation of the rights and equality agenda. This is the task facing us now.'' ENDS

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