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The Equality Authority - (An tÚdarás Comhionannais) - Ireland - Press Release

Taoiseach Opens EU Equality Year for Ireland - Equality Authority Press Release - 05 Feb 2007

An Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern TD today launched the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All in Ireland. A large gathering drawn from non governmental organisations, state agencies, private companies, government departments, trade unions, politics and the judiciary was present to celebrate the event.

The EU Council and the European Parliament have designated 2007 as European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. They have established four objectives for the year:-

  • To raise awareness of rights under the equality legislation.
  • To promote the participation of under- represented groups in all sectors.
  • To encourage a celebration of diversity in society.
  • To support social cohesion and good relations between groups.

A demand for progress on equality in Ireland is evident in the Eurobarometer survey published by the European Commission to mark the European Year. This found that:

  • 86% of Irish people think that we need more women in management, more people with disabilities in the workplace and more women in the Dail.
  • 82% of Irish people think that we need more people over 50 in companies.
  • 49% people think that we need more minority ethnic people in the Dail

Niall Crowley stated that "the strategy we are launching today seeks a European Year of Equal Opportunities for All that reinvigorates and expands the commitment and ambition of all sectors for a more equal Ireland; that challenges and seeks to dismantle the barriers of discrimination and exclusion that currently face groups and individuals experiencing inequality; and that engages all sectors of Irish society in responding to a demand for progress towards a more equal society."

The Equality Authority is the national implementing body for the Year in Ireland. They have published a strategy of actions for the Year. The Year takes place at a time when the situation of groups covered by the equality legislation continues to demonstrate significant inequalities. The 2005 CSO survey on equality which found that 12.5% of the population aged 18 and over (382,000 people) had experienced discrimination the previous two years is highlighted in the strategy.

Niall Crowley, Chief Executive Officer of the Equality Authority emphasised that "in a context of significant and persistent inequalities the strategy will stimulate and support practical action to address situations of inequality and experiences of discrimination across the nine grounds covered by equality legislation. This action will involve change from individuals and within the systems and practices of institutions. It will involve an explicit and enhanced commitment from key sectors and interests in Irish society to achieving full equality in practice for all."

The Equality Authority strategy for the European Year sets out six priority action areas. These are:-

Priority 1: Information and advocacy

Initiatives will be taken to enhance the provision of information on rights to groups experiencing inequality. Comhairle and the Office of the Ombudsman will work with the Equality Authority to explore new approaches to the provision of information. Public awareness campaigns to promote a valuing of diversity among the general public will be organised on Worklife Balance, Ageism, cultural diversity in the workplace and disability issues

Priority 2: Equality mainstreaming

Activities will be developed to support public sector bodies to incorporate a focus on equality in planning and policy making. The Department of Health and Children and the Department of Education and Science will explore the inclusion of an equality mainstreaming approach in their policy making systems

Priority 3: Equality competence

Two learning networks will be established to support institutional change so that organisations are planned and systematic in combating discrimination, making adjustments for diversity and promoting full equality in practice. FAS and the HSE will lead a learning network in the public sector and IBEC will do so in the private sector.

Priority 4: Equality debate

This will involve activities to engage key sectors and interests in a national debate on issues of equality, diversity and discrimination in Ireland. Congress, the Local Government Management Services Board, the TUI, ASTI and INTO, and the Equality Authority will all seek to support this debate at events and conferences during the Year.

Priority 5: Multiple discrimination

This will involve initiatives on older immigrants, women with a disability and older people with a disability.

Priority 6: Burning issues

Initiatives to stimulate progress in addressing key equality issues will be funded under the strategy. Non-governmental organisations will be resourced to develop projects for each of the following issues:

  • The sharing of caring responsibilities between men and women, the status and standing of those who play caring roles and the role of the State in supporting caring.
  • Gender conditioning in men and the role of men in pursuit of gender equality.
  • Recognition for transgender people in the gender with which they identify.
  • Family diversity in Irish society.
  • Provision of accommodation to meet the needs of lone parents
  • Developing a national strategy for carers
  • Combating negative stereotyping of young people
  • Access to health services for older people
  • The experience of people with disabilities in institutions
  • Supporting service providers to ensure accessibility of their services for people with disabilities
  • Partnership rights for same-sex couples
  • Integration for minority ethnic groups and the emergence of an integrated intercultural society
  • Majority community attitudes to Islam and the Muslim community
  • Achieving educational outcomes for Travellers

The Equality Authority was established by statute in 1999 to promote equality of opportunity and to combat discrimination in the areas covered by the Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts. Visit www.equality.ie for further information.

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