Category: Archive

Not satisfied yet

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The comptroller, a friend of Ireland and a tireless campaigner for the MacBride Principles on fair employment and equality, is just back from Belfast.
He reports that New York City continues to use the massive financial leverage of its pension fund to good effect there. Some 88 U.S. and Canadian companies operating in the North are now signed up to the MacBride Principles, and discrimination against Catholics has declined.
This is very much to be welcomed. But to quote Thompson himself, we are not satisfied.
In fact, it is clear from reading the report that the British government is severely lacking in its commitment to eliminate sectarian inequality.
Firstly, it has allowed the state-appointed Equality Commission to shirk its duty in combating religious discrimination, and focus disproportionately on politically less-controversial discrimination such as gender or racial bias.
Also, the British government has still not committed itself to meaningful timetables to reduce inequality.
Under the Good Friday agreement, the British are obliged to force all public bodies carry out inequality audits, and come up with plans to monitor and improve their record, not just for employment but also for procurement and investment decisions. The Irish government, as an equal partner in the agreement, is obliged to ensure that this occurs.
Eight years later, it has not happened, and there is therefore a strong case that the British and Irish governments are in effect reneging on the Good Friday agreement.
And if the substance of equality is being ignored, so too is the symbolism. When will we see the Irish tricolor flying alongside the Union Jack on public buildings?
Thompson concludes his report by saying his office will continue its aggressive pursuit of equality in the North. Let his unapologetic defense of equality be an example to the British and Irish governments.

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