Government’s new integration strategy must be translated from paper to action to have real impact – Immigrant Council
Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “Particularly welcome is the fact the Migrant Integration Strategy was informed by engagement with migrants and civil society and its recognition that effective integration measures are a two way process and require an all of Government response. Also positive is the recognition of the need to deliver intercultural awareness training for all frontline staff in the public sector; improve access to appropriately qualified interpreters and translators where needed, especially in healthcare settings and focus on the employment needs of particularly vulnerable migrant communities.
“The Immigrant Council also welcomed the Government commitment to provide funding for local community integration activities and initiatives, as well as the commitment to resource NGOs and other working with migrant communities.”
Mr Killoran added, “For the Migrant Integration Strategy to be a success, integration practices and policies in all aspects of Irish society must be firmly embedded. As the strategy describes, integration is a two way process, and requires not only that people from a migrant background adapt and make positive changes to live in their new home, such as making efforts to learn English and becoming active in their communities, but also requires that State agencies and those bodies forming the backbone of our civic lives must adapt and change to reflect and properly serve all within Irish society.”
Mr Killoran continued, “As acknowledged, the swift establishment of a strategy committee is central to the effectiveness of this document, which suffers from a lack of definitive targets in its recommendation list. We look forward to working with the Minister for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, TD, to develop this from page to action which delivers real impact for migrants living in Ireland.
The need for data collection
Commitments to establish proper data collection in relation to the lives of people from a migrant background is particularly important. Mr Killoran added: “Baseline data is a problem in Ireland – it is difficult to establish firm statistics on such things as political participation of migrants beyond anecdotal or basic headline information. Establishing this baseline information in a systematic way is crucial if we are to have any measurement of success in the areas described in this strategy.”
Attitudes to migrants
Mr Killoran concluded: “We don’t have to look far these days to see worrying international examples where migrants are scapegoated, villainised, stereotyped and dehumanised by ignorance, racism, xenophobia and populism. Yet this narrative flies in the face of the overwhelmingly positive contribution that people from a migrant background make to the countries in which they make their new homes.
“Ireland must take a stand both nationally and internationally to speak with clarity and leadership on the permanent and positive reality that migration represents. For the Irish public, this strategy represents the opportunity to develop the idea that as individuals we may not feel like we can change the world, but we can change our streets and communities to make them more welcoming and equal, and that is where real integration starts.”