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O'Loughlin, Fiona

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Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017\Second Stage
Bills\Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017\Second Stage

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Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin

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Fiona O'Loughlin

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Snippet Contents:

I am happy to speak to this Bill which seeks to extend the scope of current employment equality legislation by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disadvantaged socioeconomic or social backgrounds. Put simply, this Bill seeks to enhance equality. As my colleague, Deputy O’Callaghan, said, even though there is much talk about equality both inside and outside this Chamber, we do not do much by way of legislation to protect or improve it. It is easy to say we believe in equality but what does that mean? According to one dictionary definition, it is "the state of being equal, especially in status, rights or opportunities". It is the area of status and opportunities that we hope to address with this Bill.
Discrimination based on socioeconomic or social backgrounds has been a growing problem in recent years. It is chilling to listen to Deputy O’Callaghan speak on the school situation in particular, where some schools did not take children from certain addresses and estates. Many people living in disadvantaged areas have found it difficult to secure jobs simply because they live in a certain area or estate. Their applications are not being considered on merit and they face arbitrary barriers which have a detrimental impact on their lives. This form of inequality needs to be tackled.
The Bill Deputy O’Callaghan and I have brought forward aims to address this growing problem by explicitly banning discrimination on the basis of disadvantaged socioeconomic or social background. This should help ensure that people living in disadvantaged areas are protected from discrimination alongside those who are unemployed or are relying on social protection supports. This should help break the vicious poverty trap that many people fall into.
Fianna Fáil recognises that enhancing social conditions and creating better opportunities for people is the fundamental method of supporting disadvantaged communities. This Bill is just one proposal for tackling inequality and breaking down the barriers which exist for those living in disadvantaged areas. Unfortunately, we live in a world where assumptions based on socioeconomic status or address can often restrict opportunities for minorities or disadvantaged groups, mainly in job opportunities but also, as we heard, in education. Some progress has been made in diversity but many other areas need work to minimise or reduce prejudice.
Studies have shown that individuals sometimes make drastic changes in their personal information in order to achieve better results in the business and-or academic fields, where a surname or location can be life changing.