We must all unite against the scourge of racism and champion racial equality in our society, Junior Ministers Gordon Lyons and Declan Kearney have said.
The Executive Office Junior Ministers have spoken out ahead of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to reaffirm the Executive’s commitment to eradicating racism and tackling racial inequality.
They have urged everyone to be active in eliminating racial discrimination and emphasised the importance of educating our young people to be tolerant and respectful of everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Junior Minister Lyons said: “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination provides an opportunity for us all to reflect on how we can contribute to tackling racial inequalities and eradicating racism. It is also a fitting time to acknowledge the contribution of our Minority Ethnic communities and the real value they bring to society in Northern Ireland.
“This year’s theme is ‘Youth Standing Up Against Racism’. It encourages us to inspire our young people to celebrate difference and make the future a more tolerant and diverse one. Educating our children and young people about these issues is crucial in tackling racism in the longer term.
“We are committed to the full implementation of our Racial Equality Strategy. It provides a framework to drive forward the vital work to help ensure this a place where people can live, learn, socialise and work together, regardless of race and ethnicity. We all have a part to play in achieving this.”
Junior Minister Kearney said: “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an opportunity for us all to unite against racism and say very clearly that we do not, and will not, stand for racial discrimination in our society. Not just for this one day, but every day.
“The debate on racial equality has advanced over the last year, but this must be translated into meaningful change to bring about equality.
“The Executive Office with departments and our community and civic partners are taking forward important work to address many longstanding issues, such as tackling hate crime, developing an anti-poverty strategy and addressing the issue of racism through our schools. But it is vital that each of us personally takes action to rid our society of racism.
“I’m pleased that this year’s theme recognises the role of our young people in addressing these challenges. Increasing understanding, celebrating diversity and giving young people the space and encouragement to stand up against racism is key to bringing about and equal, tolerant and shared future for all.”
Notes to editors:
1. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March and marks the anniversary of the killing of 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws" in Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960.
2. The Racial Equality Strategy 2015-2025 establishes a framework for government departments (and others) to tackle racial inequalities, to eradicate racism and hate crime and along with Together: Building a United Community, to promote good race relations and social cohesion.
3. The Executive Office’s Racial Equality Strategy 2015-2025 can be accessed online via www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/publications/racial-equality-strategy-2015-2025
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