Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
There is no other country in Europe that has changed so much in last few years. From the conservative, homogenous place inhabited only by the local people, Dublin became one of the most multicultural places on the continent. This could have a lot of advantages for the Irish society and economy. That’s why ‘Integration Roadmap Report’ was prepared. I was talking about it with IR Secretary of the discussion – Bashir Otukoya.
Dawid Pych : What exactly is ‘The Integration Roadmap?’
Bashir Otukoya : It’s basically about different migrant organisations. We meet in a group of sixteen people and discuss how to integrate any migrants better.
DP : Everybody represents a different nation ?
BO : Not exactly. These sixteen people are the representatives from the sixteen organisations which are trying to make this Irish multicultural society better. They are from many cultures, working for Arab, African, Polish and many other minorities.
DP : Why have you decided to do this ?
BO : We’ve just got together, find out what the integration issues are and started to work.
DP : How often do you meet ?
BO : We don’t have regular meetings. We started last year when everybody could come and talk with us about his problems with a integration. Then we decided that we need another event and it took place in January. Next we were able to make recommendations for the Irish society and create the report which will be presented today on 6:30 pm in the Dublin City Council Civic Offices.
DP : So what are the biggest integration problems in not only Dublin, but in the whole Ireland ?
BO : We separated the eight different categories. They are all in the report, but most importantly are about participation of migrants in the public life. There should be more of them in the hospitals, Garda, civic offices and especially in politics.
DP : With five million people in the country where about 500 thousand foreigners live, there are no migrants in the parliament ?
BO : No. Actually a lot of Irish people imigrate to Australia, Canada and USA …
DP : … and even more migrants are coming.
BO : Yes ! There is also a lot people with roots from different nations but they are living here long enough to get the Irish passport. So there is more migrants in Ireland than in statistics and they still don’t have any representation in politics.
DP : Who has to do most to change it ? Should politicians make it by law ?
BO : No. It’s democracy. You can’t just make the rule that migrants now must have for example twenty per cent of places in the senate. But politicians should do everything to make migrants live here easier. The same as Irish people, their society. And migrants have just to start voting for they own representatives.
DP : Most of the migrants can’t vote …
BO : Not at all. You have to live here for five years to receive right to vote in national elections. That’s true. But from the other hand every migrant from European Union can vote in local elections …
DP : … which are more important for the normal people and their everyday problems.
BO : Exactly.
DP : How do ‘Integration Roadmap’ want to invite people to participate more ?
BO : Politics will be at our event today, we will also send our report to those who will not come. Than we want to active the migrants more directly by knocking to their doors and saying ‘come on, you can vote for your representatives, you can participate !’. And the Irish society has to do the same.
DP : Have you been on the anti-racist demonstration which took place on 6th February ?
BO : Yes, a lot of people were there. This was the sign that Ireland is not afraid of refugees.
DP : What about PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) ? Is this the voice of minority in Ireland ?
BO : In Ireland they are very small. What happened ? It is a group called ‘Identity Ireland’ which is similar to PEGIDA. They joined them because of the popularity which PEGIDA has around the world.
DP : How many refugees Ireland is going to take, how many can ?
BO : I don’t know the exact number but it’s something about four thousands. It is a very small number. People are afraid because we have ‘the hausing crisis’ and even Irish people have problems with finding the accommodation for themselves. But with the joint effort we can solve every problem.