Sinn Féin National Chairperson and Junior Minister in the Executive Office, Declan Kearney said it is time for those in political leadership to stand together to challenge and eradicate racism in all its forms.
Speaking after a meeting of the Racial Equality Subgroup, the South Antrim MLA said:
“This afternoon’s meeting was an opportunity for me to listen and engage with those working across society to eradicate racial inequality.
“It is really important to listen and engage with those who are working at the front line and to better understand the implications of living with everyday racism.
“I also took the opportunity to restate my determination to work across the political and civic spectrum to ensure our society is changed for the better. This society cannot be a cold house for anyone regardless of their race, religious belief, cultural tradition, sexual orientation or national identity. We need a zero-tolerance approach to racism.
“We all have a responsibility to build a new society with rights at its core.
“Sustained actions are required to overcome institutional racism, generational poverty and precarious employment which disproportionately impact on our black and minority ethnic communities.
“I am aware that the political commentary around the format and presentation of Songs of Praise has caused great offense and upset. Such insensitive language is absolutely unacceptable from a senior politician. For those of us in political leadership we must all work collectively to promote, encourage and facilitate meaningful inclusion.
“Building a society free from racism in which people are seen and heard will require a whole of society and a whole of government approach. For our part, we in Sinn Féin are committed to achieving that.”