Public Figures Failing To Lead On Equality

Public figures in Northern Ireland are failing to show leadership on matters related to equality, a survey has revealed.

90% of those questioned in the Ipsos MORI survey for the Equality Commission found that equality and anti-discrimination laws are necessary, but only one in five said they believe that prominent figures are setting a good example on this.

There is, however, a widely accepted view that such laws should be strengthened in the region, as explained by Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland Dr Michael Wardlow.

Dr Wardlow said: "It it is clear that there is strong support for our equality legislation, and for it to be updated and made more effective where that is necessary."

In contrast, the issue of public leadership on the matter was met with 54% overall disagreement out of the 500 people questioned, with another 40% ticking the box for 'strongly disagree'.
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Dr Wardlow commented: "Over the past few years the Commission has been drawing attention, and urging government action, to worrying gaps which have developed between equality laws in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. These include the absence of any protection against discrimination in goods facilities and services on grounds of age, as well as deficiencies in race and sex discrimination laws.

"We work hard to promote equality of opportunity, in the workplace and in service delivery, with private employers and public bodies. We have always stressed to them the crucial importance of strong and supportive leadership on equality issues within their own organisations. That same principle also applies in the wider context of ensuring equality of opportunity and the prevention of unlawful discrimination within Northern Ireland."

To the question "which groups of people do you think are protected from unlawful discrimination", the six most common answers identified the six grounds protected by equality laws, with "racial/ethnic" the most frequently mentioned, by 28% of respondents.

Respondents also said they believe people are most protected by equality law at work, in education and in accessing public services. Some 62% agreed that "workers are generally treated with dignity and respect" and that "in general workplaces in NI are welcoming and inclusive".

A larger majority, however, agreed that "more needs to be done to promote good relations between people of different backgrounds" (88%) and that "more needs to be done to promote equality of opportunity" (80%).

On education, 56% of people thought that Travellers and Roma children tend to get fewer qualifications than other children.


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