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Crowe, Seán

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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 Seán Crowe

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Seán Crowe

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Snippet Contents:

Like other speakers I support the thrust of the Bill. The Minister of State has raised a number of issues such as pre-legislative scrutiny. I am conscious that we have identified areas of high socio-economic deprivation in the past and we introduced programmes such as RAPID to tackle them. As a society we have identified that particular areas needed to be addressed and supported.
I am also conscious of the effect on people who live in areas that have a high level of crime or gangland killings of the coverage by newspapers and television. Someone in such an area can be impacted if he or she goes for a job interview on a day following a news story. Regardless of what is said, it is in the back of an interviewer's mind that he or she is from a particular area. We have all heard stories in our constituencies about people who held the strong view that the interview was over as soon as the interviewers heard where they lived. We all accept that is wrong.
We are all aware from history of what happened in the neighbouring jurisdiction where people were discriminated against in the past because of the area in which they lived, the school they attended or their perceived political allegiance if they considered themselves as Irish. They suffered discrimination in the areas of jobs and housing. Thankfully, we have moved on in that regard.
The intention of the Bill is to identify those areas that need to be examined in terms of discrimination. Other speakers referred to the fact that it is illegal to discriminate against people because of gender, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or because they have a disability or are a member of the Traveller community. We have been successful in addressing discrimination in those areas. We do need to examine how discrimination affects people. We need to do a lot more to tackle racism, sexism and homophobia in society. The intention behind the Bill is a positive start. Hopefully, it will give people a firm legal avenue to challenge such discrimination.
I am sure we would all accept that we need a renewed focus on tackling poverty and inequality in society. We must devise a suite of social and economic measures to tackle this man-made inequality. I do not believe enacting legislation will solve those problems but it will go some of the way towards resolving them. Legislation would also empower and encourage people to take cases where they feel there is discrimination. That is what has happened where such legislation has been introduced.
There are other areas we could examine in terms of discrimination. Reference was made to trade unions, for example. Some CEOs regularly boast about not hiring anyone who is a member of a trade union. We are still waiting on robust collective bargaining legislation.
We also need to introduce legislation on discrimination against ex-prisoners, in particular those who qualified under the Good Friday Agreement. All sorts of promises were made about those prisoners but they are still discriminated against when it comes to travel and adoption. The situation affects men and women and it must be addressed. Ex-prisoners are discriminated against when they try to get taxi plates because of their former political status. Such discrimination is wrong and goes against the Good Friday Agreement and it should be outlawed in future equality legislation.
I welcome the introduction of the Bill. It gives us an opportunity to start thinking about what is wrong with society. Clearly, discrimination on the basis of where people live, a poor background or because they are not wealthy would go against the ethos of everyone here.