Irish National Integration Conference 2021
The Immigrant Council's annual Integration Conference brings together national and international migrant experts and activists as well as allies to discuss key areas of integration to share ideas and identify positive actions to promote effective migrant integration and inclusion in Ireland.
The Irish Integration Conference is the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s annual coming together of national and international experts in the areas of migration and integration to share ideas and identify positive actions to promote effective migrant integration and inclusion in Ireland.
The theme of our 2021 conference was “Irish identity 100 years later” and examined the evolution of Irish identity after almost a century of nationhood against the multicultural mosaic that is modern Irish society.
This was the 2nd integration conference held by the Immigrant Council and the first to take place entirely online in line with public health advice. There were in-depth discussions on topics including migration and integration best practices, cultural identity, citizenship, labour integration, racism and direct provision.
Our 2021 Integration Conference took place virtually from Monday, 15 February to Thursday, 18 February across 9 sessions. All sessions were presented live via Zoom and Facebook and can be watched below.
Monday, 15 February 2021
Panel: Integration - learning from the past, looking toward the future - 10.00am-12.00pm
2020 brought the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic. It revealed the importance of essential workers, of which 26% are migrants, as well as the disproportional impact of the virus on migrant communities. The pandemic also revealed the weakness of Irish immigration services that caused barriers to thousands of migrants in renewing their statuses. As a result it caused challenges to their daily lives and work security. In addition the first Irish Migrant Integration Strategy expired at the end of 2020. The strategy is still yet to be evaluated before the work on the next integration strategy commences.
Our panelists will discuss the trajectory of the Irish approach to integration, the impact of the first Migrant Integration Strategy, the current challenges to integration, as well as key areas of improvement for future.
- Joe O’Brien, TD, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities
- Brian Killoran, CEO, Immigrant Council of Ireland
- Sarah Duku, Cairde Coordinator Ballbrigan
- Keire Murphy, Maastricht University
- Amanullah De Sondy, Director, Nasc, Senior Lecturer & Chair of Race Equality, UCC
- Teresa Buczkowska, Integration Manager, Immigrant Council of Ireland
Workshop: Identity and Belonging - 2.00pm-3.00pm
The current generation of young Irish and European citizens of mixed background are challenging the limited and outdated notion of belonging based on the concept of ethnostate and are demanding recognition. This workshop will host young activists discussing strategies they are implementing while working on the following issues: change to citizenship laws for 2nd generation youth in Greece, influencing public perception on belonging of mixed heritage Irish, and advocating for legal status for undocumented young people in Ireland.
- Dyeneffer Diaz, Translate Ireland
- Eirini Niamouaia Ontoul, Generation 2.0, Greece
- Femi Bankole, Black and Irish campaign
- Diane Ihirwe, Co-Founder, Rooted in Africa & Ireland
Tuesday, 16 February 2021
Workshop: Anti-racism Victims Support - 10.00am-11.00am
Ireland is lacking a proper anti-racism infrastructure. With the Department of Justice progressing their work on Hate Crime legislation and the National Action Plan Against Racism, the key focus now is on victim support. The workshop will offer practical tips and information for migrants and service provides on how to report racism and how to support victims of racism.
- Mariaam Bhatti, Activist and EU Expert Group Member on Migration
- Sergeant Geraldine Greene, Garda National Diversity & Integration Unit
- Valeria Aquino, Integration Officer, Immigrant Council of Ireland
- Claudia Gichichi, Board member, Irish Network Against Racism
Panel: Replacing the system of Direct Provision - 2.00pm-4.00pm
For more than 20 years of existence the system of Direct Provision has been criticised by residents, human rights activists, academics and civil society. A number of various reports have been produced analysing the negative impact on people’s wellbeing and their prospects of integration after receiving their status. Reflecting commitments made in the Programme for Government, Minister for Children, Disabilities, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman, TD, has articulated a strong commitment to replacing the system of Direct Provision. His work started with commissioning the Day report and subsequently overseeing the formulation of the Government White Paper on Direct Provision, expected in early 2021.
We will hear from activists and professionals who have personal experience of the Direct Provision.
The panellists will discuss the Report of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process and proposed solutions.
- Roderic O’Gorman, TD, Minister for Children, Disabilities, Equality and Integration
- Donnah Sibanda Vuma, Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland (MASI), Founder Every Child is Your Child
- Jennifer Campbell Okeke, Anti-Trafficking Officer, Immigrant Council
- Reuben Hambakachere, Integration Project Officer, Cultur Migrants Centre
- Owodunni Ola Mustapha, Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland (MASI)
- Liam Thornton, Associate Professor, UCD Sutherland School of Law
Panel: Migration - Global perspective, local action - 6.00pm-7:00pm
Migrant leadership is a key to achieving equality and to protecting human and civic rights of migrants and their families. and International networks of solidarity work together to strengthen democratic processes by mobilising and organising migrants for civic engagement and electoral power. The panel will hear from members of the Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue on the strategies and tactics they implement on a local level, and their work in a cross national network of migrant and refugee leaders.
- Teresa Buczkowska, Integration Manager, Immigrant Council of Ireland
- Zrinka Bralo, CEO, Migrant Organise, UK
- Nicole Melaku, Director, National Partnership of New Americans, USA
- Thomas Huddleston, Research Director, Migration Policy Group, Belgium
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Panel: Making labour integration work - 12.00pm-2.00pm
Access to the labour market is a key factor for self-realisation and financial independence, and as such it is prerequisite to integration. The MIPEX integration index report published at the end of 2020 highlighted major challenges for Ireland in this area. There are many structural barriers e.g. qualification recognition, Stamp 3, sectoral barriers to career progression, delays with immigration registration. There are also other barriers like unconscious biases in recruitment, and low knowledge amongst employers on various work permits.
The panelists will review the impact of policy and legal barriers and discuss possible solutions and recommendations for change.
- Dr Orlaigh Quinn, Secretary General, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
- Nagmah Reilly, Board of Directors, Immigrant Council of Ireland
- Dr Michal Polakowski, Economic and Social Research Institute
- Mavis Ramazani, Employer Engagement Officer, Irish Refugee Council
- Sandra Ruiz, Expert on migrant women labour integration
- Dr Ebun Joseph, Labour integration & anti-racism expert
Workshop: Citizenship beyond the legal framework - 3.00pm-4.00pm
2020 was a year that witnessed many questions being raised around the legal framework and policies concerning acquiring Irish citizenship. High Court cases challenged the unbroken residence requirement and ‘good character’ requirements for applicants and their families. The Labour Party Bill on Citizenship rights for Irish-born children raised important points on the ongoing negative impact of the 2004 Referendum, and the delays in citizenship application processing time have once more become an issue for many applicants. In addition the Economic and Social Research Institute published a new report analyzing barriers to citizenship. The workshop will offer a discussion on how the current citizenship regulations and legal concept is proving to be a barrier for integration, and how it could be reformed to realise its potential as a key indicator of successful integration.
- Angelisa Zerpa, Board member, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
- Majo Rivas, Human Rights Lawyer
- Bashir Otukoya, Assistant Professor of Law, DCU, Member of the Anti-Racism Committee, Department of Justice
- Colin Lenihan, Information & Support Service Coordinator, Immigrant Council
Thursday, 18 February 2021
Workshop: Integration of EU migrants - 2.00pm-3.00pm
Eastern European migrants comprise the largest migrant group in Ireland. The majority of seasonal workers also come from Eastern Europe. Migrants from Eastern Europe have a high level of integration needs due to language barriers, labour rights exploitation, and discrimination. However, due to funding policies they are excluded from accessing most of the integration programs offered by civil society. Workshop panelists will discuss the challenges that they face in providing support to EU migrant workers.
- Barnaba Dorda, Chair, Forum Polonia
- Karina Korotkevica, Drop In Centre Coordinator, Migrants Rights Centre Ireland
- Wojciech Voyteck Bialek, CEO, Together-Razem Centre, Cork
- Joanna Siewierska, President of Students Union 2019/2020, UCD
Panel: Representation through Black Excellence in collaboration with Rooted in Africa & Ireland and Timi Ogunyemi - 6.00pm-7.30pm
The Black story is not about pain and complaining. The Black story is about so much more. The Black Lives Matter movement has been around since 2013 and before that with the civil rights movements calling for racial equity. At this point, there is almost no excuse not to know why Black Lives Matter is inclusive, not divisive. Looking forward, we need to achieve equity through representation and celebrate and spotlight Black excellence in our society.
This panel will explore the challenges that Black people living in white spaces have come up against in the past, how we are living with them and what is to come; as well as how we continue to overcome and let our excellence shine through.
- Joy-Tendai Kangere, Co-Founder of Rooted in Africa Ireland
- Timi Ogunyemi, Creative Director, Ground Control
- Pearl Natasha
- Jude Hughes
- Bernard Gomis
- Feli Speaks