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Integration a key to success for all our people - Ruane

10 September, 2008


Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has said indigenous communities should embrace our increasingly diverse society from a position of confidence, rather than insecurity.

"We need to concentrate on all that our social, economic and political lives stand to gain. We in the indigenous communities can have a massive impact on fostering integration in choosing to actively embrace and welcome change and diversity."

Presenting the key note address at the inaugural National Integration Debate in Dublin, Ms Ruane called on people both North and South to remember our own population's long history of emigration. The minister also highlighted the importance of ensuring transparent processes were in place to help immigrants have confidence that they would be dealt with fairly.

"Generations of Irish people have, in difficult circumstances, succeeded in building their own homes and families in communities around the world and helped fashion many great nations. We must learn from these experiences as we now welcome new families and individuals into our society. We must support families who want to come to Ireland and not separate parents and children.

"Our schools in the North have welcomed newcomer children from more than 30 countries. My own department is committed to supporting children for whom English is not their first language by providing funding so they can integrate easier and enjoy their new school."

The minister emphasised the economic contribution of migrant workers throughout Ireland and the essential role which they now play in the island economy. Ms Ruane also recognised the work done by the non-governmental sector and the importance of valuing existing and new cultural values.

"Those who remain unconvinced by the arguments for pursuing a diverse and integrated society need only look at the economic evidence. Many of our employers now depend on migrant workers to fill labour and skills gaps.

"We also must recognise the important role the non-governmental sector provides for newcomers to Ireland, giving advice and assistance across a wide range of key issues.

"An intercultural strategy requires that cultural life is valued. This means we must have sensitivity and openness to the otherness and newness in the cultural norms and practices of new communities in Ireland. Equally it means that the cultural richness of Ireland, An Gaeilge, dance, literature, the visual arts, are cherished and shared."

The National Integration debate, an initiative of Metro Eireann was sponsored by An Post, the Republic's Office of the Minister for Integration and Amarach Consulting. The debate programme was also supported by a national opinion survey which sought to gain independent public insights on the issues of integration.

It is intended that the debate, which will be held annually, will contribute to combating discrimination and building a multicultural society.

Notes to Editors

Metro Éireann is Ireland's first and only multicultural newspaper set up by two journalists, Chinedu Onyejelem and Abel Ugba in April 2000. Published weekly by Metro Publishing and Consultancy Limited, Metro Éireann is the primary source of news and information in Ireland's fast-growing immigrant and ethnic communities. Apart from supplying up-to-date news and analysis, Metro Éireann has become a forum for inter-cultural communication, showcasing the rich cultural diversity of Ireland.

Further information on the National Integration Debate can be found by contacting Chinedu Onyejelem at Metro Éireann Tel: 00 353 86 8523397 or email [email protected].

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