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Newry and Armagh MLA, Justin McNulty has called for delivery on a Racial Equality Strategy for the North.

McNulty commented, "16 years ago, the Stormont Executive promised to deliver a Racial Equality Strategy for minority ethnic groups, but in 2021 that promise remains unfulfilled.

"This week, I was proud to sign my name to a commitment to advance racial equality alongside my colleague, Councillor Lilian Seenoi-Barr. We are becoming an increasingly vibrant and diverse society - however, hate crimes, inequality, and discrimination are still all too common. Just last week, it was reported that the number of racist crimes in the Newry, Mourne & Down Policing District have trebled in the space of a year. More broadly, the PSNI have revealed that there have been 1,142 racist incidents and 839 racist crimes across the North in the last 12 months, with racist hate crimes now outstripping the number of crimes with a sectarian motivation.

"These statistics are deeply troubling, and Amnesty International have now declared that “Northern Ireland is suffering a hate crime epidemic”. We are constantly treated to some political parties talking about the need for ‘equality and respect’, but once again it seems that those in the political driving seat are happy to offer empty words and platitudes, without actually rolling up their sleeves and delivering on tangible solutions to serious problems.

"In my view, it takes a great deal of bravery for individuals and families to make the decision to move their life to a new country. It’s such an incredible compliment to our country that people have chosen to call this place home – those who have decided to make a new life here in Ireland are enriching our society’s diversity by sharing with us their culture, their values, their skills, and their language.

"Three international human rights agencies have recommended action by government to enhance protections against violence, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination – these recommendations now need to be implemented and given the full force of the law. Minority ethnic groups need to know that they are not only respected, but valued as members of our communities."

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