10 January 2008 Edition

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Gender equality must be central to North's Bill of Rights

Sinn Féin Derry City Cllr Maeve McLaughlin has said that it is imperative that a Bill of Rights in the North of Ireland includes social and economic rights in its broadest sense and that it is crucial that we do not limit our view of rights in order to ensure that this Bill of Rights is the correct framework to support the rights of those most disadvantaged and marginalised in society.
Speaking this week following a Bill of Rights seminar organised by the women’s sector in the city Cllr McLaughlin congratulated Foyle Women’s Information Network in convening the event which brought together groups from across the city as well as a range of representatives from the ethnic communities now playing an integrated role in the life of our city.
“It is however crucial that we explore models of how this Bill of Rights will be enforced, there is little point in a wide ranging Bill of Rights if citizens feel they have no redress if rights are not been implemented or abused”, Councillor McLaughlin said.
“Gender Equality must be central to any such framework and rights governing childcare, housing, employment, education, and domestic violence, reproductive rights must be upheld.
“Given that we have had 19,000 people from the ethnic communities set up home in the North of Ireland in the last few years it is important that we uphold and enhance the rights of all these residents.
“It is for example not acceptable that translation services for our new communities are based in Belfast and women who are attending hospital in an emergency situation have to wait for someone to be sent from Belfast in order to communicate with medical authorities.
“If we are to create a truly inclusive Bill of Rights then the needs of those most disadvantaged must be central and must be enhanced and supported by legislation”, she said.

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