Northern Ireland news

Michelle O'Neill urges recognition of people of African descent to north's society

Michelle O'Neill has written to the Assembly Speaker to urge discussion on how to mark the contribution of people of African descent in the north.
Paul Ainsworth

THE contribution to Northern Ireland by people of African descent should be marked by the Stormont Assembly, Michelle O'Neill has said.

The deputy first minister was speaking following an assembly debate on Monday focussing on racism and the lack of progress implementing Stormont's Racial Equality Strategy 2015-25, which was established to "tackle racial inequalities" and "promote good race relations and social cohesion".

The Sinn Féin vice president has written to Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey to urge the consideration of ways to acknowledge the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), which she said would be "a positive signal to all people from the African descent community that we value their friendship, we acknowledge their life experiences and appreciate the cultural richness they bring to community life".

She continued: "Challenging racism, in all its manifestations, and promoting inclusion requires a whole society approach. It will require Executive and political leadership that challenges racism, xenophobia and intolerance and which also sends out a clear signal that this society has zero tolerance of racism.

"Our society is strengthened by our ethnic and cultural diversity. It is my view that this must be acknowledged and also positively promoted."

Speaking of the International Decade for People of African Descent, she added: "This decade provides a focus for all to join together with people of African descent and recommit to the principles of inclusion, valuing diversity and anti-racism."

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