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Panel to tackle sectarian violence


First Minister Peter Robinson

First Minister Peter Robinson

First Minister Peter Robinson

Proposals to tackle sectarian violence have been unveiled by the First Minister's office.

A panel of ministers will be established to take forward the government's commitment to equality and inclusiveness through a cohesion, sharing and integration initiative (CSI).

Interface trouble like that in Ardoyne earlier this month will be among the issues tackled. Protection of migrant workers who have fallen on hard times will also be a key theme.

This year's Hillsborough power-sharing discussions promised to end the logjam on issues like this and progress is a priority of new Alliance Party justice minister David Ford.

Democratic Unionist Party First Minister Peter Robinson said: "We want to build a society where everyone shares in and enjoys the benefits of peace and stability. The programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration will address issues impacting on disaffected young people, tackle the conditions that perpetuate urban interfaces and rural segregation, as well as addressing those issues facing both established minority ethnic groups and new arrivals within our community."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said it could help co-ordinate government action against sectarianism, racism and all forms of hate.

"Working together, we will build a shared and better future for all based on fairness, equality, rights, responsibilities and respect," he added.

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"Events within our community in recent weeks emphasise how important it is for dialogue, agreement and joint working. We want to build a society where people can live, work and socialise in safe, shared and accessible facilities. We want a future based on equality, sharing, respect and understanding."

The 76-page public consultation was launched today and will run until October 29 this year. A ministerial panel established under the draft proposals would ensure interface violence is addressed, and would safeguard vulnerable groups and tackle wider sectarianism. It will aim to create more shared space and ensure rapid responses to hate crime.

The Executive will examine what support can be given to migrants who were working but find themselves out of work. Patrick Yu, the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities' executive director, said they had been relentlessly lobbying for peaceful co-existence between all communities in the province.