The Equality Coalition is seeking to focus its work on four strategic areas over the next year.
1. ‘No going back to normal’ – pandemic and Northern Ireland
Furthering our work from last year, we will take interventions to ensure inequalities are not exacerbated by the Covid-19 recovery measures and that the costs of the rebuilding from the pandemic are not borne by key workers and the most economically marginalised. We will also continue to engage with relevant bodies to ensure that the post-pandemic ‘transformation’ of the health service does not lead to increased privatisation and the centralisation of decision-making power.
2. Campaigning to ensure the realisation of ‘rights based’ power-sharing
Concurrent with our interventions on the pandemic, we will continue to press for the enactment of unimplemented rights-based commitments of the peace settlement to underpin sustainable power-sharing and governance in NI. It is already apparent that 2022 will provide fresh challenges and a renewed focus for this work in the context of recent political turmoil and the upcoming May 2022 Assembly elections.
3. EU exit – protecting workers and communities
The NI Protocol continues to be a high-profile political issue in Northern Ireland, with concerns across the Coalition that a move to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol (or remove it altogether) will pose a significant risk of a rollback of rights protections. Into 2022, we will continue to be active on this issue, including raising concerns related to the impact on workers’ rights.
4. Countering hate expression and incitement to hatred
In Spring 2022, there will be a final consultation by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on the implementation of the recent independent review of hate crime legislation in NI. We will extensively engage in this process particularly to ensure protections are safeguarded for LGBT communities and that an effective model is put in place to extend protected grounds to tackle misogynistic incitement to hatred and transphobia.