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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 16:43 GMT
Racial equality 'beacon' to UK
T-shirt with anti-racism message
A T-shirt spells out a football legend's message at the launch
Wales has the chance to lead the way when it comes to race equality, according to the assembly government.

On Monday, it set out exactly how it intends to boost equality and beat prejudice.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme, Head of the Commission for Racial Equality Trevor Phillips said it would be a "beacon" to the rest of the UK.

Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan said it would "set the gold standard" for promoting good race relations.

I think it may be rather easier for people to be Asian and Welsh or Black and Welsh than Asian and English or Black and English
Trevor Phillips, Commission for Racial Equality
The initiative will come into force on 1 April and will also help develop policies taking the needs of all ethnic minority groups into account.

Mr Phillips, a former chairman of the London Assembly, told an audience in Cardiff that the Welsh assembly had the greatest opportunity of any organisation in Wales to stimulate change.

"If you can pull it off here be absolutely sure that we will shout to the heavens in praise of Wales," he said.

Trevor Phillips
Trevor Phillips said the Welsh identified with being a minority
But Mr Phillips also used the occasion to attack coverage by some newspapers in recent weeks of the controversy over unauthorised encampments by travellers and Gypsies.

He said the newspapers had conducted a "campaign of denigration and hatred".

Mr Phillips also borrowed a Welsh phrase used earlier by the first minister when Mr Morgan described his campaigning decades before against apartheid. The CRE head said some reporting had been "ych y fi" (disgusting).

Modern Wales is built on a foundation of welcoming people from different ethnic backgrounds
First Minister Rhodri Morgan
Mr Phillips also said people from ethnic minorities could find it easier to integrate into Welsh communities than they would in England.

"I think it may be rather easier for people to be Asian and Welsh or Black and Welsh than Asian and English or Black and English," he said.

"The Welsh have always identified with two things, with being a minority and not being English."

He believed the contribution of ethnic communities was part of the Welsh identity, with a "substantial migration community" in south Wales for many years.

Football anti-racism poster
Many involved in sport have backed the anti-racism drive

Mr Phillips said there were "special circumstances" in tackling race equality issues in Wales, including its relationship with "the Welsh identity and Welsh language".

But he said that as long as provision was made for people to learn Welsh he could "see no reason why those who aren't from Welsh stock can't feel proud of being Welsh".

Mr Morgan said: "Modern Wales is built on a foundation of welcoming people from different ethnic backgrounds.

"This is something we should celebrate because that was one more reason for Wales' great leap forward from obscure backwater to major economic power in the 19th Century."

The scheme will run until May 2008, when there is a legal duty to revise it. There will be a report on its progress every year.

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