Is Ireland Migrant Friendly?

It was a great event for every Dubliner thinking about the Irish future and even more interesting for migrants (including me). One hundred years after The Irish Rising, we met in Dublin City Council on Monday morning to discuss if Ireland needs now another revolution or just long-term, planned evolution. What everybody had agreed before, was the fact that changes are necessary.

Everything started at 9.30 with short introduction from Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland. He said “thank you” to everybody (about 50 people came), explained the reasons for the meeting and pointed out how important it is to think now about the future of the country. After Mr. Killoran’s speech everybody knew that we have to choose the “evolution” plan. But we had to wait for the other speakers to know why.

“The present defines the future. The future builds on the foundation of the past” – somebody once said. That’s why “Revolution or Evolution” needed a few looks back into history, especially the most important about The 1916 Rising. Conor Mulvagh, history lecturer from UCD, told us in brief about the importance of that date. He focused on the diversity of the Independence Proclamation signatories, from James Connolly (socialist) to P.H. Pearse (nationalist). They all had different views on nearly everything, but still were focused on the same goal. Giving the independence to a free country of equal people with the same rights.

Mr. Mulvagh also mentioned two stories about migrants (Indians and Belgians) who were living in Dublin one hundred years ago and about who we often forget, considering Ireland from the past as the most homogenised country in history.

During Mr. Mulvagh’s speech, organisers showed us some movies about The Rising from RTE.

Jamie Moore, who was representing South Dublin County Public Participation Network, was the next speaker. He indicated the biggest problems of integration and multicultural community in Ireland. All of them are connected to the luck of migrants in public and political life. Both, society and government representatives, should work altogether to reach positive results and make all minorities lives easier. The main goal of PPN is to “promote an active formal role for groups with policy making and oversight committees within Dublin City Council and to disseminate information to members”.

Pat Coffey, Social Inclusion Officer from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, presented the most interesting PowerPoint presentation. Without words, but with smart illustrations. He reminded us that we can’t think that any cuts or laws against different people, do not apply to us. Society is a network full of connections. That’s why Ireland should choose the “evolution” way of development instead of another revolution.

Mr. Coffey mentioned that every speech needs a quotation from a philosopher and he chose Aristotle’s one – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. We have to work altogether for society prosperity.

Then, it was a time for people we usually don’t really like. But democracy is not democracy when there is no politicians.

Maureen O’Sullivan, Irish independent politician started. She has been a TD (Teachta Dála) for the Dublin Central constituency since June 2009. She mainly mentioned Irish problems with education and told the audience about how important it is to fight against youth exclusion. If we didn’t care about children now, the future of the country would be hopeless. Ms. O’Sullivan said that conditions of poor kids haven’t changed for a long time.

Patrick Akpoveta, recent General Election candidate, told his story about coming from Nigeria to Dublin years ago. Dublin wasn’t so multicultural as today and people were less open-minded. There were parts of city where Mr. Akpoveta was told not to go. Then he decided to be active and to change Irish society for better. He doesn’t want to be compared to other politicians who are separated from the normal people’s lives and making new law after law without thinking if it is good for citizens. Mr. Akpoveta admires every contact with people on the street and wants to make minorities’ lives as comfortable as the others.

Senator Ivana Bacik, whose roots are from Czech Republic, recalls all the problems mentioned before. She is trying to do her best to solving them. Ms. Bacik’s father moved to Ireland after The Second World War, in 1946. He remarked to his daughter all the problems he had to face after becoming a migrant. A lot of them are still waiting for a solution. Ms. Bacik’s daughter hasn’t been yet in her mother’s native land, but call herself Czech-Irish.

Joanna Siewierska use the same method to describe her nationality (Polish-Irish). She is a Deputy President at Irish Second-Level Students Union. She was speaking about her experience as a young migrant.

When the speeches were finished, there was a break, and afterwards, time for workshops and discussing solutions to the problems mentioned before.
After the “Revolution or Evolution” event and everything that I heard there, I’m sure we can make the future brighter.


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