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Source: Social Democratic and Labour Party of Northern Ireland

SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson Mark H Durkan said the published timetable for the development and delivery of the Social Inclusion Strategies while welcome, is long overdue.

As agreed in New Decade, New Approach, these strategies will address barriers and inequalities within society, covering Anti-Poverty, Disability, Gender Equality and Sexual Orientations.  

The Foyle MLA commented: 

“I am pleased that work has finally begun on the Social Inclusions Strategies as agreed in New Decade, New Approach.  

“It must be acknowledged that many within our communities face inequalities and barriers on a daily basis. And while it is hoped these strategies will be completed by the end of 2021, we cannot forget the lack of progress has been a glaring failure by the Executive, further hindered by three years absence of the Assembly, which has delayed action on these crucial issues.  

“The Child Poverty Strategy, for example, which expired in March 2019 could not be renewed due to the political stand-off between the two bigger parties. That, by anyone’s standards, is disgraceful particularly at a time when more children than ever are at risk of poverty.  Minister Hargey and subsequently Minister Ní Chuilín’s failure to properly mitigate against Welfare reform, namely the cruel two-child Tax Credit limit already affecting 3900 households here, has left families struggling.” 

Mr Durkan continued:  

“Clearly, an updated, contemporary response which considers a post-Covid landscape among other challenges that lay ahead, is required. That said, I am however hopeful that through close community engagement we can ensure the effective development and delivery of these key strategies. By creating strategies with a community-focused outlook we can create a more equal society- one which removes barriers and protects everyone. 

“Of course, responsibility for these strategies does not lay solely at the door of the Department for Communities. It is important the Executive and other departments play their role, to provide action not just words on Social Inclusion. These are relatively easily implemented strategies in terms of cost, yet their consequences are invaluable- the Executive’s prolonged delay cannot be excused.” 

MIL OSI United Kingdom