McGuinness: Executive 'could help fund mosque for NI Muslims'

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Martin McGuiness told MLAs that public funds could help provide a mosque for Northern Ireland's Muslim community, on 9 June 2014.

The deputy first minister said a young teacher he had met at the Belfast Islamic Centre had told him she was afraid to go to work, following recent statements made by north Belfast pastor James McConnell.

Pastor McConnell who called Islam "heathen" and "satanic" was questioned by police and subsequently apologised.

Mr McGuinness said the events of recent weeks had been "shameful".

In reply to a question from Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay, he said he had approved a draft racial equality strategy and was "optimistic" that it would be published in a matter of days ready to go out for consultation.

Replying to a supplementary question from the SDLP's Fearghal McKinney, the deputy first minister said it was not just a matter of Muslims being offended but "wider society as a whole was offended by this situation".

The DUP's Paul Givan accused the deputy first minister of "going on the run" by refusing to give evidence to a Westminster committee's inquiry into "On The Runs" (OTRs).

Mr McGuinness said he, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly MLA had met Lady Justice Hallett the previous week, as part of a separate review of the OTR letters scheme.

The Hallett review was instigated by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Givan called on Mr McGuinness to apologise for comments he had made in a recent media interview when he asked the question: "How sorry do you want me to be?".

"I think the work I have been involved with in the past 20 years has amounted to something and I have done that in the face of much opposition, including from some members on the opposite benches," the deputy first minister replied.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton answered questions on matters including equal pay claims in the Northern Ireland Office and the police service, procurement issues, and the 2015-16 budget.

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