At an event held in the EU Commission Office today, Alliance representative Allan Leonard signed the Charter of European Political Parties for a Non-Racist Society on behalf of the party.
Speaking at the event to mark European Week Against Racism, Allan Leonard stated:
“Racism, sectarianism and other forms of prejudice are about institutionalising difference and putting people into boxes.
“Prejudicial attitudes are present not only among the working-class population, but in the leafy suburbs and down at the golf club.
“It is a greater challenge for all of us to tackle the insipid racism and sectarianism wherever it appears – ignorant remarks and so-called jokes made by your friends, your unreformed relatives, and in negative media coverage and inadequate public policies.”
Welcoming the publication of draft legislation for Hate Crime laws in Northern Ireland, Mr Leonard said that it will require proper enforcement to be truly effective.
“It is a disgrace that it has taken so long to get Hate Crime legislation into Northern Ireland, particularly after so many racist attacks in recent times. I would call upon the Government and public authorities to tackle racist crime more seriously and urgently.”
The Charter commits political parties to specific principles and good practice, including defending basic human rights and democratic principles, refusing to stoke up hostility and prejudice, as well as dealing responsibly and fairly with this sensitive topic, and to work for fair representation of minorities within the parties themselves.
The Charter was signed by Sinn Fein, UUP, SDLP, Women’s Coalition, PUP, Alliance and the Workers’ Party.
A full version of Allan Leonard’s speech can be found at: www.allianceparty.org/speeches.asp