Robinson and McGuinness publish racial equality proposals

First Minister and Deputy First Minister say NI Executive determined to stamp out hate crime

The First and Deputy First Ministers in the North have published their racial equality strategy. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

The First and Deputy First Ministers in the North have published their racial equality strategy. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 20:22

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have launched their public consultation on a draft racial equality strategy for Northern Ireland.

They said this evening that the Racial Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland 2014 - 2024 was designed establish a framework to tackle racial inequalities, to eradicate racism and hate crime and to promote good race relations and social cohesion.

The draft proposals were developed with minority ethnic representative groups and representatives of the wider community and come after a series of hate crimes in Northern Ireland in recent months, particularly in loyalist areas.

Mr Robinson said Northern Ireland society had changed dramatically over the past decade and has been “enhanced by the rich diversity of those people who have made their home here”.

“They make a valuable contribution to all our lives and any actions that make people feel unwelcome, vulnerable or intimidated must be condemned by us all,” he said.

“Nobody should be judged on the colour of their skin, their political or religious background or race. This consultation is an opportunity for all sections of our community to voice their views on how to make Northern Ireland a society that respects diversity,” he added.

“The (Northern) Executive is committed to stamping out all forms of racism and to making Northern Ireland a peaceful and tolerant place where everyone feels welcome and valued.”

Mr McGuinness said he unreservedly condemned the recent race hate crimes and all forms of intimidation.

“We must develop a society where racial equality and diversity is supported, understood and respected. Social, cultural and religious diversity should help build bonds between people, not create conflict,” he said.

“The Executive is determined to tackle racial inequality head on; however, we can’t do this alone. Through this consultation document we seek to gather a wide range of views from anyone with an interest in racial equality,” added Mr McGuinness.

The public consultation period will run until October 10th. The document is available online at ofmdfmni.gov.uk/racial-equality-strategy