What can be done?

Society can fix these problems by using ‘positive discrimination’ to right the wrongs these groups suffer.

The government can offer employment programmes, housing benefits, and education opportunities to these groups to create social equality.

There are a range of laws that help to promote equality and social justice in Northern Ireland.

  • The Good Friday Agreement
  • The Northern Ireland Act 1998 (section 75)
  • Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 (amended 1984)
  • Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 (amended 1988)
  • Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997
  • Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995

There is also a government organisation, the Northern Ireland Equality Commission, which monitors how well these laws are implemented.

The Good Friday Agreement (section 75)

The Good Friday Agreement (also known as the Belfast Agreement) was signed in April 1998, and brought an end to three decades of violence known as ‘The Troubles’.

It aimed to create a new government for Northern Ireland that shared power between unionists and nationalists. The agreement provided the foundation for building an equal society.

The Northern Ireland Act 1998 (section 75)

The Northern Ireland Act 1998 gave the Good Friday Agreement the force of law. It created the Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive.

Section 75 of The Northern Ireland Act 1998 deals with equality in Northern Ireland. It ensures that all people, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or ability are treated fairly and equally.

If you are not receiving the same treatment and rights as others, you can go to court and have your case heard.

It reads:

Section 75 (S75)

A public authority shall in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity -

a) between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;

b) between men and women generally;

c) between persons with a disability and persons without; and

d) between persons with dependants and persons without

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act requires the government to proactively protect your rights:

  • Section 75 requires public authorities to promote equality of opportunity for everyone regardless of their age, race, gender, or sexual orientation;
  • public authorities should promote good relations between people of different religious beliefs, political opinions, and ethnicities;
  • Section 75 places a duty on public authorities to produce an equality scheme which outlines how they propose to meet their duties;
  • individual rights are safeguarded by law to ensure that people are not discriminated against;
  • it also helps to address social inequalities between different groups in society to help build a fairer society.