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3 April 2003 Edition

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Orange Order's anti-Catholic land deal

The Orange Order has denied that it was involved in plans to buy land and property worth £5 million by 2005 to stop it falling into the hands of Catholics.

An Orange Order spokesperson said there were no formal links between the organisation and the Ulster Land and Property Company, which has been providing loans in a scheme specifically designed to deny Catholics the right to purchase property and land.

Presentation packs from the company have been distributed to Orange Order members, urging them to prevent property from "falling into nationalists' hands."

"We do not deny that the company exists nor that Orangemen are involved in it but what individual members get up to privately is not really our business provided it remains true to the basis principles of the organisation," said the spokesperson.

Equality Commission faces legal challenge

Sinn Féin Equality spokesperson, Upper Bann Assembly member Dara O'Hagan, has welcomed the legal challenge to the decision of the Equality Commission to withdraw financial support for a large number of discrimination cases.

"The decision to withdraw support for the majority of cases of discrimination that the Authority had been supporting has been very detrimental to the battle for equality," she said. "Possibly as many as 70% of the discrimination cases will be affected.

In many instances, a person taking a discrimination case has faced not just discrimination but then a battle of three to four years for some justice. To withdraw financial support at the final hurdle is a double blow," said Dara.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson was speaking on the second day of a judicial review hearing in Belfast High Court.

"The decision, which was taken entirely without consultation, also sends entirely the wrong message out to employers that operate mechanisms of either direct or indirect discrimination. The issue of discrimination whether direct of indirect, structural or institutional must be tackled in an open and transparent way if we are going to build the ethos of equality and human rights into the fabric of our society," said Dara.


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