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More to India than take away

30 January, 2008 - by Gerry Kelly

Celebrations to mark the Republic Day of India were led by Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly when he visited the Indian Community Centre and Hindu temple in Belfast. During the event, which was entitled 'More to India than take away', the Minister, received a traditional Hindu 'tilak' blessing and a garland of flowers.

In his keynote speech he told guests that the work of the centre was pivotal in bringing about a better future as well as tackling division and prejudice.

Gerry Kelly said:

"This centre is an example of integration in action, playing a positive role on the ground to build relationships within the wider community. We see local action as the cornerstone of our future work. To build a new society here, local action is the cornerstone; local communities, such as yourselves, and the work you do, and local councils are the building blocks; and relationships are the mortar which holds it all together."

Mr Kelly also praised the contribution made to local society by the Indian community in the social, cultural, and economic spheres.

The Sinn Féin Minister said:

"In recent years India has become an important source of both inward investment and trade revenue here. It is estimated that in excess of 3,000 people are employed here by major Indian companies. For many years the Indian community has been part of our society and I would particularly like to recognise your very substantial contribution in the fields of education, commerce, medicine and elsewhere.

"We, in the Executive, recognise that the traditional divisions in our community, combined with the recent increase in migration, call for an imaginative and pro-active approach to improving good relations and combating discrimination. If we are truly to experience a shared future we must acknowledge and tackle all forms of division and prejudice, whatever their basis." ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  1. Further information on the Indian Community Centre can be obtained by contacting Mrs Twastree Banerjee, Good Relations Officer, Indian Community Centre, 86 Clifton Street, Belfast. Tel: 028 9024 9746. Email: [email protected]
  2. The Republic Day of India conference was held at the Indian Community Centre in Belfast and focused on raising awareness among the local community of what India and the Indian community has to offer.

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