Northern ireland office equality scheme

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Section 75(1)

    1. In carrying out our functions relating to Northern Ireland we are required to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between:

  • persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation

  • men and women generally

  • persons with a disability and persons without

  • persons with dependants and persons without.

Section 75(2)
    1. In addition, without prejudice to the obligations above, in carrying out our functions in relation to Northern Ireland we are required to have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.

    2. “Functions” include the “powers and duties” of a public authority2. This includes our employment and procurement functions. Please see below under “Who we are and what we do” for a detailed explanation of our functions.

The Equality Act 2010

    1. As a Whitehall Department, the NIO is also covered by Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. The general duties of the Act require public authorities to seek to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act;

  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not;

  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

    1. These are sometimes referred to as the three aims or arms of the general equality duty. The Act sets out that having due regard for advancing equality involves:

  • Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics;

  • Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people; and

  • Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.

    1. The protected characteristics are:

  • Age

  • Disability

  • Sexual orientation

  • Gender reassignment

  • Marriage and civil partnership

  • Race

  • Religion or belief

  • Gender

The Act also sets out additional specific duties which are to publish information on equality and to prepare and publish equality objectives. As a small organisation with less than 150 employees, the NIO is exempt from publishing this information. However, the NIO will continue to carry out its functions in a manner which is compliant with the general duties as required by the Equality Act 2010. The NIO also adheres to the Ministry of Justice’s Equality Information and objectives.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995

    1. The NIO is required, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to take reasonable measures to ensure neither direct nor indirect discrimination occurs against people with disabilities, as defined by the Act. The Department is also required to make reasonable adjustments to its policies and premises where appropriate.

Section 75 duties in relation to the functions of the NIO

    1. Schedule 9 4(1) to the Northern Ireland Act requires the NIO as a designated public authority to set out in an equality scheme how it proposes to fulfil the duties imposed by Section 75 in relation to its relevant functions. This equality scheme is intended to fulfil that statutory requirement. It is both a statement of our arrangements for fulfilling the Section 75 statutory duties and our plan for their implementation.

    1. The NIO is committed to the discharge of our Section 75 obligations in all parts of our organisation and, as far as possible, we will commit the necessary available resources in terms of people, time and money to ensure that the Section 75 statutory duties are complied with and that our equality scheme can be implemented effectively.

Who we are and what we do

    1. The NIO’s role focuses on overseeing the Northern Ireland devolution settlement and representing Northern Ireland interests at UK Government level and UK Government interests in Northern Ireland. The Department also retains responsibility for a range of excepted and reserved issues. Excepted matters are those that central government retains the ability to legislate on; such as national security policy in Northern Ireland. Reserved matters are those that the Northern Ireland Administration are able to legislate on but only if they have can secure consent from the Secretary of State; such as telecommunications.

    1. Following the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Department of Justice in 2010, the NIO is no longer as engaged in the delivery of frontline services as it has been in previous years.

    1. The Department is organised around a number of core areas:

  • Constitutional and Political Group

  • Economic Group

  • Community Engagement Group

  • Security Group

  • Strategy & Communications Group

  • Business Delivery Group

Associated Bodies

    1. In addition to the core Department, there are a range of matters which are dealt with through a network of associated bodies. These differ considerably from each other in terms of their formal status, intended purpose, statutory or other responsibilities, the degree of independence from government and their size.

Non-Departmental Public Bodies

    1. The Department’s executive NDPBs are:

  • Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

  • Parades Commission for Northern Ireland

    1. The Department’s advisory NDPBs are:

  • Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland

Independent Statutory Office Holders

    1. The Department’s independent statutory office holders are:

  • Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland

  • Civil Service Commissioners for Northern Ireland

  • Sentence Review Commissioners

  • The Independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Committee on Protection

  • The Remission of Sentences Act Commissioners

  • The Independent Reviewer of Police and Military Powers under the Justice and Security Act 2007

International Bodies

    1. In partnership with the Republic of Ireland, the Department co-sponsors the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR).

The Crown Solicitor’s Office for Northern Ireland
1.19 The Crown Solicitor for Northern Ireland is a statutory appointee under Section 35 of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 (as amended). The staff of the Crown Solicitor’s Office are all members of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, employed by the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) for Northern Ireland, seconded to the Northern Ireland Office and posted to the Crown Solicitor’s Office. The Crown Solicitor’s Office does not form part of the core of the Northern Ireland Office operationally, but its budget forms part of the NIO Vote and accordingly its activities are recorded as part of the NIO’s annual accounts.
1.20 Further information on the NIO’s role and responsibilities can be found on our website:

Chapter 2: Our arrangements for assessing our

compliance with the section 75 duties
2.1 Some of our arrangements for assessing our compliance with the Section 75 statutory duties are outlined in other relevant parts of this equality scheme.

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