Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 14:27 UK

SF rejects 'shared future' blame

Martina Anderson
Martina Anderson called for 'mature political leadership'

Sinn Fein has published its own paper on good community relations, claiming it is not to blame for the deadlock over the Executive strategy.

Martina Anderson, the party's spokesperson on equality, has launched a 43-page document.

It is called: "Rights and Respect: An Executive Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration.

It's understood the party delivered the paper to the first minister's office at the beginning of the summer.

The paper comes after First Minister Peter Robinson blamed Sinn Fein for a long delay in publishing the community relations/CSI strategy.

Ms Anderson said there was "justifiable concern" about the delay and that political recrimination was wrong. She called for "mature political leadership" from all parties.

She added that her party was committed to an approach based on equality before adding: "Unfortunately this has not always been forthcoming from all parties."

She insisted the substance of the paper reflected the party's approach in engagements with the DUP and was "a genuine effort to agree an appropriate cross-party Executive strategy".

She pledged to engage with other interested parties.

The paper states that equality is "the foundation of Good Relations; Good Relations cannot be built on inequality."

The party claims its document is consistent with the Programme for Government.

Panel

Sinn Fein is proposing a panel led by the first and deputy first ministers, including all departments, other statutory bodies and representatives from across society who have faced discrimination, prejudice and hate crime.

The body would set priorities and provide resources.

The paper also sets out the need to focus on education and promote a greater understanding of shared values, as well as building a peaceful climate based on rights and respect.

It advocates building support for local and minority ethnic communities to support those who have experienced hate crimes including homophobic hate crime.

However, a DUP source insists the party's paper bears little resemblance to a paper drawn up by officials in the first and deputy first minister's office last October.

The source said the Sinn Fein paper suggests equality is the only factor in addressing good relations, ignoring issues such as ignorance, education and prejudice.

The source said the DUP had provided Sinn Fein with a framework document in July as a proposed way forward on the issue, after consultation with the Community Relations Council.



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