Views sought on new racial equality law for Northern Ireland

Views sought on new racial equality law for Northern Ireland

A public consultation is seeking views on Northern Ireland’s race legislation ahead of a planned overhaul.

The review of the Race Relations (NI) Order 1997 is a key action within the Northern Ireland Executive’s racial equality strategy, intended to strengthen Northern Ireland’s race legislation so that it offers at least the same level of protection, if not more, than other jurisdictions across these islands.

Launching the consultation, Denis McMahon, permanent secretary of The Executive Office, said: “We are committed to making Northern Ireland a welcoming and fair society. However, we understand there is still a need for redress if people are not treated how they deserve to be.

“This review of the current race relations legislation will ensure that anyone who has been discriminated against, because of their ethnicity, will have the best protection possible. It should never make a difference who we are, what we look like, or where we are from.

“The new bill will have an effect across all walks of life. We also want to make sure it is fair, so I would encourage everyone to look at the changes we are proposing and take the opportunity to have your say.”

The Executive Office has been working and engaging across key stakeholders across the range of sectors and has developed proposals for amendments to the current order to create a brand-new draft Racial Equality Bill.

Dr Livingstone Thompson, chair of the Executive Office’s racial equality subgroup, said: “As chair of the racial equality subgroup, I welcome the initiation of the public consultation on the Race Relations Order. This is an important opportunity for us to ensure that, at the very least, legislation offers similar protection against racial discrimination as it does in other jurisdictions.

“However, alignment with GB and Ireland must not be seen as the ultimate goal of this undertaking. The objective must be that Northern Ireland takes the lead to ensure that this jurisdiction is characterised by its strong opposition to racial and all other forms of discrimination, not only as a matter of law, but also as a matter of everyday societal practice.”

The consultation document and details of how to respond can be accessed on the Executive’s website.

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