REVIEW OF THE 1989 ACT
20. During the passage of the 1989 Act, the Government
had committed itself to conducting a formal review of the operation
of the legislation and other government policy in this area within
five years of the commencement of the legislation. This task was
originally entrusted to the Central Community Relations Unit of
the Northern Ireland Office; but responsibility was later transferred
to SACHR. After detailed research, SACHR recommended substantial
changes to both law and practice in the area in a report published
in June 1997.
In particular, it recommended that the PAFT guide-lines be reformed
and put on a statutory basis, and that changes be made to TSN
and the existing 1976 and 1989 Acts.
21. The Government's response to the SACHR Report
was set out in the White Paper, "Partnership for Equality",
published in March 1998.
This accepted some of the recommendations - in particular the
recommendation for a new statutory equality duty on public authorities
to replace the PAFT guide-lines. The White Paper proposed, however,
subject to further public consultation, that the existing equality
bodies be amalgamated into one new Equality Commission. This had
not previously been proposed by SACHR. The Belfast Agreement took
note of the White Paper and, in particular, included a commitment
by Government to "make rapid progress with ...
measures on employment equality...".
35 Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, Employment
Equality: Building for the Future, Cm 3684, June 1997, The Stationery
3890, March 1998, The Stationery Office. Back
3883, p. 19. Back