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Watchdog raps leaders over new body's gender imbalance

By Noel McAdam

Published 23/06/2016

Judena Leslie
Judena Leslie

Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness have come under fire for presenting a "backward image of Northern Ireland" by appointing only one woman to the new Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition.

The Public Appointments watchdog said it was at "total odds" with Stormont's gender equality targets. Judena Leslie warned: "The composition of the commission suggests that decision-making and advice in this area is best done mainly by men."

Community relations worker Dr Katy Radford was the only woman named on the commission on Monday. Twelve men were appointed to the body, which political stalemate had delayed by more than a year.

The north Belfast woman is heavily involved in inter-community work, race relations and victims', survivors' and prisoners' groups.

She was appointed to sit alongside DUP MLA Nelson McCausland, Ulster Unionist MLA and former Army captain Doug Beattie, ex-Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hartley, former Orange Order official David Hume and ex-republican prisoner Donncha Mac Niallais, among others.

Saying she was "very disappointed" at the lack of women on the body, Ms Leslie added it was "at total odds with the gender equality targets for public appointments agreed by the Executive in March."

She explained: "The appointments to the commission do not just reflect a lost opportunity by ministers to implement a publicly stated commitment through action, but appear to completely contradict that commitment."

Belfast Telegraph

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