Soapbox: Disability, gender and sexual orientation policies hived off to Communities

Reprinted here with permission of Brian Barrington, a former SDLP advisor from his own Facebook page this morning…

One of the decisions made when the Northern Ireland Executive was first established was to keep all aspects of equality policy in the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). There were two reasons for this.

First, because OFMDFM was the secretariat to the Executive. Therefore, any paper from a department going to the Executive could be scrutinised on equality grounds and, if it didn’t measure up, it could be kept off the Executive agenda until it did.

Second, it was considered better to keep equality at the centre rather than creating a separate department which could fall into DUP hands. Well goodbye to all that !

Because now new departments have been created and responsibility for disability, gender and sexual orientation policy has been hived off to the new Department for Communities.

And today when ministerial offices were allocated SF didn’t bother to nominate to it. So it fell to Paul Givan of the DUP. That’s the same Paul Givan who proposed the “conscience clause” bill last year in the Assembly.

The same Paul Givan who repeatedly avoided the question of whether he believed that sexual relations between persons of the same sex should be criminalised.