[Sinn Fein]

19th March 2003

A future based on equality for all

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Human Rights and Equality issues, Bairbre de Brún MLA has welcomed a seminar to be held at Queen's University Belfast this afternoon (Wed 19th), calling it `an important contribution to the vital work of ensuring a future based on equality for all'.

Ms de Brún is attending the conference in Belfast with party colleague Dr Dara O'Hagan. Both representatives have stressed the importance of economic investment and development, particularly in areas of high social deprivation.

Ms de Brún said:

`` To make progress on the commitments to equality in the Good Friday Agreement, particularly where economic development is concerned, we need to focus on those communities that have been consistently let down by the promise of change in the past. If we cannot break the cycle in these areas, then it won't happen at all.'

Dr. Dara O'Hagan warned that legislation, while crucial, is not in itself sufficient to tackle structured discrimination. She said:

``While legislation is clearly necessary of itself it is not sufficient to tackle structural inequalities. To do that effectively there needs to be a co-ordinated and integrated strategy involving legislation and economic and social policies.

`` Equality cannot be simply an illusion. There must be full accountability for equality measures; genuine and full participation to ensure that citizens feel their concerns are taken into account and reflected in decisions which affect them; goals and time-tables for its implementation, and regular review and assessment of progress and impact.

`` Sinn Fein has therefore worked through negotiations at the highest level, through ongoing campaigning to improve the delivery of the equality agenda, and through our everyday work with those communities at the `hard end `, as they strive to bring about real, positive and lasting change. We need to see regeneration initiatives for such communities, worked out with these communities, with targets and timetables for the outcomes sought.'' ENDS

Note to editors: This afternoon's seminar is being organised by the Centre For Social Research and will take place in the Peter Froggatt Centre, at Queen's University and will begin at 1pm. It is entitled Researching Inequality: Themes and Issues.

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