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We must eradicate racial intolerance and hate crime – Fearon and Ross

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Junior Ministers Megan Fearon and Alastair Ross today addressed the Good Practice Plus conference which focused on tackling racial and religious hate crime.

The conference, held in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast, marked the end of an 18 month project to develop an EU model of good practice addressing hate crime and hate speech, and create an effective reporting system on hate crime.

Addressing the international audience of over 150 delegates Junior Minister, Megan Fearon said: “All too often we hear of hate crimes and we know many more take place which don’t make the headlines.  These despicable attacks leave individuals, families and the community traumatised and uncertain about their future.

“It is encouraging race motivated hate crimes have decreased this year and the Executive is committed to zero tolerance.  The attitudes and behaviours which give rise to these crimes are unacceptable and we will not let them go unchallenged.  The Executive’s Racial Equality Strategy aims to combat racism and hate crime, and projects like Good Practice Plus allow us to share and learn from our European partners in tackling the scourge of racism.”

Junior Minister, Alastair Ross said:  “The Northern Ireland Executive strives to eliminate racial inequality and develop a society of mutual respect where diversity is celebrated. Our draft Programme for Government has a clear objective to increase the confidence and capability of people and communities and create a society that respects one another. 

“We have come a long way but there is no room for complacency if we are to achieve our vision of a Northern Ireland free from bigotry and intolerance. We will continue to make every effort to ensure that any form of racism is firmly consigned to history.”

The conference was hosted by the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM).  Good Practice Plus was developed in partnership with the PSNI, The Ministry of the Interior (Finland), Migrant Centre NI, and UK Race and Europe Network.

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