‘Integrating Limerick’, a two-year plan for the city and county drawn up by the Limerick Integration Working Group, was launched on Friday 5 May by Minister for Integration John Curran TD.
Eugene Quinn, Director of JRS Ireland and Joint Chair of the Group, explained the need for the plan at the launch: “The rapidly changing face, and indeed faces, of Limerick City and County present significant opportunities but also significant challenges. Integration is a very important issue for the region as the estimated 16,000 migrants that have located here form an important part of our labour market and local economy and are key to the continued growth of the region. This Plan seeks to enable them to fully participate in society, by promoting an inclusive and dynamic environment in Limerick in which all residents are valued, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnic background.” See the full press release below.
Minister launches integration strategy for Limerick
The Minister for Integration, John Curran, T.D. officially launched the Limerick City and County Integration Plan 2010-12 today.
“Integrating Limerick”, which has been developed by the Limerick Integration Working Group, is focused on actions supporting the integration of Limerick’s estimated 16,000 migrants into society.
The priority actions outlined in this Plan include enhancing participation of all communities in the social and cultural life of Limerick City and County; improving representation of minority communities in local governance and representative groups; providing equal opportunities for all by improving accessibility to rights and services, information and training; and promoting the acquisition of English language skills by migrants and integration in the mainstream education system.
Eugene Quinn, Joint Chair of the Limerick Integration Working Group explained that the new Plan was the result of a cross sectoral and community wide approach to promoting interculturalism in Limerick.
Addressing today’s launch event in The Hunt Museum in Limerick, he said: “The rapidly changing face, and indeed faces, of Limerick City and County present significant opportunities but also significant challenges. Integration is a very important issue for the region as the estimated 16,000 migrants that have located here form an important part of our labour market and local economy and are key to the continued growth of the region. This Plan seeks to enable them to fully participate in society, by promoting an inclusive and dynamic environment in Limerick in which all residents are valued, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnic background.”
Mr. Quinn continued: “ In the three-year period from 2010 to 2012, we hope the actions contained in the Plan will enhance the lives of all who live and work in Limerick, will challenge discrimination where it occurs and will ultimately celebrate the diversity that is now part of everyday life in the City and County. In a wider context this Plan will be considered along with Interagency Initiatives for Travellers and Regeneration Plans to ensure coherence across all integration initiatives.”
Operating under the Social Inclusion Measures Committees of both Limerick City and County, the Limerick Integration Working Group (IWG) was established in 2007 with the aim of bringing together statutory, community and voluntary bodies to address integration needs of migrant and host communities in Limerick. A key objective of the IWG was to develop an Integration Plan for both local authority areas.
IWG member groups include Limerick City Council, Limerick County Council, Doras Luimní, An Garda Síochána, FÁS, Department of Education and Science, Department of Social and Family Affairs, Health Service Executive, University of Limerick, Integration and Social Inclusion Centre of Ireland, Limerick City Adult Education Service, Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland, County Limerick VEC, Citizens Information Board, PAUL Partnership, New Communities Partnership, Ballyhoura Development Ltd., City Community and Voluntary Forum, West Limerick Resources and the Limerick Latvian Activity Centre.
Councillor David Naughton, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council said: “The publication of this Action Plan represents an important milestone in the lives of immigrants and ethnic groups living in Limerick City and County. I am delighted and, indeed, proud that Limerick has taken the initiative in developing this strategy, which assists and enables individuals to take responsibility for their own integration and helps them build a life for themselves in Ireland.”
Councillor Naughton, who is also Chairperson of Limerick County Development Board, continued: “Ireland is home to thousands of migrants who carry with them the same ambitions and dreams that we once carried with us during our centuries of emigration. The challenge for us as a society is not to just engage positively with this reality but to harness our collective ability to embrace this change. Ireland is in the midst of an economic recession in which many people, Irish and immigrant, are losing their jobs. Members of the local community in Limerick City and County must unite in these harsh times and continue to support one another for the sake of a fully functioning society and an eventual return to positive economic growth.”
Today’s launch event also featured a panel discussion entitled “Integration and the Recession”. Chaired by RTE’s Mid West correspondent Cathy Halloran, the discussion featured input from Justyna Cwojdzinski (JC English Language Institute), Pat O’Sullivan (Limerick Businessman), William Fabian (President of Limerick Filipino Community) and Michael MacNamara (Director of HSI Limerick Business School). Musical entertainment was provided on the day by the locally based Elikya Gospel Choir
According to Councillor Kevin Kiely, Mayor of Limerick, the Integration Plan would not have been completed without the commitment and dedication of all the people who served on the Integration Working Group over the last three years.
He continued: I am very impressed that this plan has identified specific actions for delivery over the lifetime of the plan and has identified the agencies responsible for the delivery of these actions. This should ensure that the plan is effective in impacting positively on the lives of migrants in the City and County, and is in line with the City Council’s own core value of Equality and Social Inclusion.”
“In the current economic climate it is essential that we enable all our citizens to play an active part in this country’s recovery, as outlined in the themes covered under this plan. The improvement of Education and Training Services, eliminating discrimination, providing for the health and welfare of migrants is the only option to enhance their employment prospects and it is only through employment that one can be fully integrated into the community”, concluded Mayor Kiely.
For further information on “Integrating Limerick: Limerick City and County Integration Plan 2010-12” telephone 061-480922 or visit www.limerickcdb.ie.