Diversity, migration and integration have never before been such high-profile issues in Irish society. Internationally migration is the hot topic of the day, and how we as a society respond to immigration and new communities has the crucial benefit of being completely win-win if handled correctly.
This is why in 2017 we established the Integration Hub, with a focus on promoting political participation and combating racism. The Integration Hub is funded under the EU Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) via the Department of Justice and Equality.
The latest figures show political representation in Ireland does not reflect our increasing diversity: while 11.6% of people in Ireland are non-Irish nationals, only three in 949 local councillors across Ireland are from a migrant background and only one TD a naturalised Irish citizen. Improving political participation is an essential part of successful integration, giving migrants the opportunity to get involved and influence and enrich the societies of which they are a part.
While working to ensure an appropriate response to, and support for, migrant communities in the future, we recognise that every day children, men and women are discriminated against based on their race, background or ethnicity. We have seen examples in other countries where communities have become ghettoised, leading to a lack of empathy and understanding of each other’s lifestyles and beliefs. Ireland is becoming an increasingly diverse country and we have a real opportunity to embed positive practices for the benefit of the whole of society.
In February 2017 the Government published its National Migrant Integration Strategy, detailing a number of initiatives which, if implemented, would improve the experience of migrants who no call Ireland home. Local Authorities play a crucial role in delivering successful integration strategies as so many of the issues which affect everyday life fall within their remit. The Immigrant Council is supporting LAs to develop their own localised migrant integration strategies as unfortunately, despite widespread willingness to assist with migrant integration, few have active migrant integration strategies.
In addition to specific programmes of work regarding political participation training with people from a migrant background and integration strategy work with Local Authorities, we will continue to research and collect information about the experiences of people in daily life in Ireland to monitor our impact.
Combined, these actions will encourage a social understanding of the positive benefits of migration, help us to learn from each other and build stronger communities. We believe that together it is possible to continue the evolution of Irish society into one that is not only welcoming and diverse, but celebrates our differences to create an equal Ireland for all.
migrant children study in 23% of primary schools.
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