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How is our work influencing life in Northern Ireland and delivering equality? Learn more about our policy, legal and research work.

UK's exit from the European Union

What you need to know


Protecting and advancing Equality and Good Relations as the UK exits from the European Union

Equality and good relations are priority issues which should be protected and advanced as the UK exits from the European Union.

We recommend that government should:

Ensure the promotion of equality and good relations are priority issues in the EU exit negotiations

Equality and good relations are central to ensuring a prosperous and thriving Northern Ireland. Equality of opportunity was a core issue in the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and a focus of key outcomes of the draft Programme for Government 2016-2021. Government should maintain a focus on these and on the values of respect for equality and human rights and on the fundamental principles of non-discrimination and equality, key principles of EU law, in the exit negotiations and final agreement.


Ensure no regression from existing protections and mechanisms

EU law has resulted in changes that have strengthened equality legislation in Northern Ireland across a number of equality grounds. It is essential that government ensures there is no erosion of these and other equality rights and protections in Northern Ireland after the UK leaves the EU and that mechanisms to ensure effective application of equality laws are supported.


Adopt a best practice approach that includes implementing future equality enhancing protections and best practice

Government should commit to implement future equality enhancing protections and best practice coming from the EU and elsewhere, and to addressing the significant gaps in equality protection between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. It should seek to be a model of international best practice in standards of equality protections.


Ensure there is no negative impact on equality and good relations for those living in Northern Ireland

Government should ensure that the UK’s exit from the EU does not negatively impact on race relations, that prejudicial attitudes and hate crime in NI are tackled effectively. It should also maintain policy initiatives and funding to support equality, good relations and the peace process, including through the work of the voluntary/community sector.



Ensure effective engagement with key stakeholders, including Section 75 groups

There should be effective engagement with key stakeholders, including Section 75 groups, on any EU exit proposals that have implications for equality and good relations in Northern Ireland.


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