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Snippet Contents:

Deputy Connolly made a number of points to which I wish to reply. She stated that it is not appropriate to keep referring to local authority estates and areas as being areas of deprivation and areas where there is criminality or antisocial behaviour. I fully agree with her. What is being referred to for the purposes of this Bill is the fact that people are discriminating against individuals because they perceive, wrongly, that from where they come are areas of antisocial behaviour or where there are high levels of criminality. That is the reason we are mentioning it. It is the discriminator who is wrongly relying on those grounds.
We also must recognise the report recently prepared by Kieran Mulvey on foot of the Government's request into what was happening in north inner city Dublin. One of his findings was that there were high levels of unemployment and social deprivation in the area. We cannot hide away from the fact there are local authority areas which need significant State investment and the people there need some support. The Bill would give those people some support so that they could say that the State and its legislators are on their side and are trying to do something to deal with the discrimination which they accurately perceive exists.
Deputy Connolly referred to the fact that a number of months ago Deputy Pringle introduced a Bill which proposed to amend the Constitution by putting into it social and economic rights. She suggested that Fianna Fáil voted against the Bill. She is right, but that Bill was different from what is being put before the House today. This Bill would give effect to the principle of equality in Article 40.1 of our Constitution. Deputy Pringle was perfectly entitled to put forward a Bill. He wanted to put socioeconomic rights into the Constitution so that they could thereafter be interpreted and applied by the Judiciary. It is our responsibility to make laws for the people of this country, and I urge people to support the Bill.