Equality Authority Board Meets Partnership Interests in Cork and Celebrates Joint Initiative with Citizens Information Centres

The Equality Authority , which was set up under the Employment Equality Act, 1998, will hold its first meeting outside of Dublin today, 4th April 2000. To mark this important event, Alderman Damian Wallace, the Lord Mayor of Cork, will attend a special breakfast meeting at the Quality Shandon Court Hotel, which will take place prior to the Board meeting. The Board of the Authority decided to hold its April meeting in Cork and to meet with local representatives of groups representing those protected by the legislation, such as Travellers, and Immigrants.

The meeting also coincides with the announcement of a new and innovative partnership arrangement with the National Social Services Board. The purpose of the partnership is to enable the Authority to develop an outreach policy to ensure the provision of information regarding anti-discrimination legislation to people residing outside of Dublin and who may have had difficulty in the past in accessing such information.

The announcement of the partnership arrangement with the NSSB/Comhairle is being held in Cork as the Authority has decided to undertake a pilot scheme in co-operation with the principle Citizens Information Centre in Cork, located in the South Mall. The pilot scheme will comprise’ a clinic’ type arrangement where by a member of the staff of the Equality Authority will attend at the Cork CIC once a month, in order to provide the public with information and advice on ,the operation of anti-discrimination legislation and other matters relating to equality .If this scheme proves successful it is intended carry out a similar exercise in other CICs nation-wide. The Equality Authority also intends to train CIC staff in the operation of the equality legislation and to provide a range of its publications which will be made available at every Citizens Information Centre throughout the country.

Since its establishment in October 18th 1999, the Equality Authority has dealt with more than 3,000 enquiries relating to discrimination. The organisation has a statutory responsibility to advise, support and represent where appropriate members of the public who feel they have been subject to discrimination in the workplace.

These responsibilities will be considerably widened when the Equal Status Bill, which is currently under consideration by the Seanad is passed. The legislation outlaws discrimination in the provision goods, facilities and services on the nine grounds already covered by the Employment Equality Act, 1998 -they are: gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, race and membership of the Traveller Community.