Derry City & Strabane District Council have agreed to explore setting up a new working group on racial equality.
A Notice of Motion was put forward by Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher at this week’s full council meeting in the Guildhall.
Reading out the motion, Colr. Gallagher said that taking action was the right thing to do. The motion stated that “having heard the issues and concerns from representatives of the ethnic minority community, as well as the legal duty imposed on the Council under the Race Relations (NI) Order 1997, in addition to the Section 75 Equal Duty, the obligation under the forthcoming Racial Equality Strategy, the common goal of social cohesion and inclusiveness within this new Council, a new Working Group on Race Equality in the new Council should be established”.
Mr Gallagher continued that the new group should include “participation from all the parties across the full Council, headed up by the Mayor with the inclusion of ethnic minority communities.”
Elaborating, Colr Gallagher said that after recent meetings with people of different ethnicities that lack of representation with regards to issues that affect their daily lives was a major concern for them.
He added that to his knowledge within the council chamber there was no-one of black, ethnic minority grouping, which meant that making sure there was representation within the local authority even more important.
Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy said she had also attended a recent meeting with ethnic minorities alongside Colr. Gallagher, adding that her party fully supported the motion.
She said that members of ethnic communities faced particular challenges “and we need to be at the forefront of meeting these challenges”.
Concerns were also raised that a new working group may result in the duplication in terms of the work already being undertaken by local groups.
Sinn Fein as a result have asked the council to produce a report on the existing work that is going on.
SDLP Councillor Gerry Diver said the council have been extremely lucky to have had such a dedicated team within the council’s Good Relations team.
DUP Councillor Drew Thompson said his party had no major concerns with the motion, while Independent Councillor Dee Quigley said this would send out a very positive message.
The motion was passed unanimously.