Politicians in anti-hate crime bid
Politicians have teamed up with local sports ahead of a weekend that will see players and fans join forces to kick hate crime into touch.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Chief Constable Matt Baggott were among guests at the launch of the latest initiative from the Unite Against Hate campaign at Stormont.
Justice Minister David Ford and Junior Minister Gerry Kelly also joined representatives from gaelic games, football and ice hockey at the event to promote the efforts to eradicate sectarianism, racism and other forms of intolerance from the terraces.
Over the weekend clubs will show their support for the campaign at grounds and arenas across the region, with the Unite anthem played and wristbands distributed to supporters.
Addressing the well-attended event in the Long Gallery, Mr Robinson said: "The Unite Against Hate campaign promises to give a voice to the often silent majority and enable them to express their opposition to hate and intolerance in our communities and to act on that.
"We want to spell out our clear condemnation of all hate crime attacks and abuse. Hate crime is totally unacceptable and has no place in our society."
Mr Kelly added: "We can start educating our children and young people to respect diversity, to take part in all sports in a safe and secure environment.
"Sport and games are a vital expression of cultural identify, and they can provide a unifying arena where we can celebrate and commiserate in the shared emotion of a unifying cause."
Dr Duncan Morrow, of the Community Relations Council, also spoke at the launch, which was compered by comic and Unite Against Hate ambassador Tim McGarry.
"Building a shared society means tackling the malign influences of sectarianism and racism and other forms of hate crime," said Dr Morrow.