Integrating Equality Strategies North and South

A Report which analyses the challenge of delivering equality in Ireland, North and South was presented in Belfast today by the Equality Authority and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. The Research report – “Charting the Equality Agenda” by Katherine Zappone was jointly commissioned by the two equality bodies to develop a framework for equality strategies reflecting the broad scope of the equality agenda in both jurisdictions.

Niall Crowley CEO of the Equality Authority welcomed the co-operation between the two bodies which had made the project possible, “this cooperation allows the search for new approaches to the mutli-ground equality agenda to take place on an Island basis”. “The Report presents a challenge to identify and define these. In particular we are now challenged to work on three levels:

 

  • To take up issues relevant to the experience of discrimination by specific groups;
  • To develop initiatives that enhance the equality agenda for a wide range of groups simultaneously, and
  • To address the experience of people with multiple identities, such as women with disabilities, older Travellers etc.

In this we have a shared framework to promote equality and to combat discrimination, which allows us to learn from each others experience. In particular we seek to learn from the experience in Northern Ireland of implementing the statutory duty to promote equality , he concluded.

Joan Harbison, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland welcomed Ms Zappone and Niall Crowley to Belfast for the launch of the Report. “This important work is an example of effective practical cooperation between our two equality bodies”, she said.

“This research clearly demonstrates that considerable inequality and discrimination exist both in Northern Ireland and the Republic. The Belfast Agreement of 1998 established a central and crucial role for equality of opportunity , and we share common ground in the types of equality confronting us, and in our determination to combat them. The Equality Commission and the Equality Authority both have responsibilities for a wide range of equality issues. We need strategies which will enable us to combat discrimination in whatever form it manifests itself and to promote a concept of equality which can contribute to the needs of all of the .different groups which make up our diverse society on this Island”.

The Equality Commission’s Chief Executive, Evelyn Collins, also stressed the importance of the constructive working relationship which had developed between the two equality bodies in Ireland.

“Countering prejudice and combating inequality is an essential priority for all the people in Ireland, North and South” she said. In Northern Ireland we are now debating the contents of a Single Equality Bill which will bring together all our legislation dealing with discrimination and equality .The experience of the Equality Authority in operating comprehensive equality laws in the Employment Equality Act and the Equal Status Act is informative and helpful as we undertake such an immense task” she continued.

“As Katherine Zappone’s work makes clear, bringing together different strands of a diffus equality agenda is a complex task. This Report presents a visionary approach to the task of re-organising our structures and laws, and points the way to the development of a common equality consciousness from all our diverse backgrounds and traditions” concluded Ms Collins.

 

Ends

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