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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Forum tackles race relations
Race relations in Northern Ireland
Race relations in Northern Ireland are to be discussed at the first of three public seminars.

The Northern Ireland Race Equality Strategy will be discussed at the forum in Londonderry on Thursday.

The strategy was announced earlier this year as part of government measures to tackle the root causes of racial inequalities within society in Northern Ireland.

NIO minister John Spellar said it was important for the public to be involved in determining the best ways to improve race relations.

He said "good progress" had already been made through public consultation and for members of minority ethnic communities, but these seminars would provide a further opportunity for people to put forward their views.

Eliminate racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for people of ethnic backgrounds
Increase equality of opportunity for minority ethnic people
Combat racism and provide protection against racist crime
Promote good relations and mutual respect between people of different ethnic backgrounds, including Irish Travellers
Increase awareness and understanding of and respect for minority ethnic groups
Increase participation of ethnic people in social, public, economic and cultural life
Help minority ethnic communities to contribute to achieving the strategy's aims
A spate of racist attacks have been reported in Northern Ireland in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, the home of a mixed race Muslim family in Craigavon, County Armagh, was attacked by a gang of up to 10 men who used baseball bats and iron bars to break windows and doors.

The family, who had been targeted before, decided to move away from the province, saying "Northern Ireland is just not ready for different people".

Police suspected pipe bomb attacks on two homes in the Donegall Avenue area of south Belfast last month were racially motivated.

Mr Spellar said the recent attacks were "very disturbing".

"We all must work together to eradicate this cancer before it poisons our society," he said.

"By listening to views from as many people as possible, we can build a race equality strategy - owned by the whole community, for the whole community.

"We want to ensure that this consultation is as broadly-based and inclusive as possible, and I would urge everyone to attend the forthcoming seminars which provide an ideal opportunity to help influence government policy on race equality.''

Police said 226 racial incidents were reported between April 2002 and April 2003, with 185 such attacks in the previous year.

The first seminar will be held in Calgach Centre at Butcher Street in Derry, while further meetings are to take place in Dungannon on 28 July and in Belfast the following day.

Race attack family to leave NI
10 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland
Family in 'racist' attack
07 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland
Attack motive investigated
30 Jun 03  |  Northern Ireland
NI 'needs to tackle racism'
21 Mar 03  |  Northern Ireland
NI 'needs anti-racism forum'
10 Dec 02  |  Northern Ireland

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