Integration in Limerick going according to 'Plan'

MEDIA RELEASE
Friday, May 9th 2014

The launch of Africa Day/Week Limerick 2014 and the latest Progress Report relating to the implementation of the Limerick City & County Integration Plan 2013-2016 took place in Limerick City Hall this morning (Friday, 9th May 2014).

More than 100 representatives of community groups and organisations as well as local agencies such as Doras Luimní and Limerick City & County Council attended the event, which coincides with City of Culture 2014 and Limerick's recent inclusion as a member of the Intercultural Cities Network.

Today's event also featured a panel discussion on integration involving Linda Kirwisa of the Limerick Integration Working Group, Pat O’Sullivan of Limerick FC, Michael Walsh of Limerick Youth Service, and Limerick Arts Officer Sheila Deegan who represented Limerick City of Culture. An interactive discussion with audience members followed and was chaired by Karen Mc Hugh of Doras Luimní, who is Joint Chair of the Limerick IWG.

The second Limerick Integration Plan, 'Towards Intercultural Limerick: Integration Plan 2013-16' continues the work of the previous three-year plan in delivering services and implementing activities that promote the integration of migrants in Limerick City and County.

Speaking at today's event Deputy Mayor of Limerick, Cllr. Joe Leddin said: "Just like the Plan that preceded it, the new plan reminds us all of our responsibilities to develop a society that is inclusive of every member and section of our community. As an Elected Member, I am delighted to see the immense progress that has been made in this regard with a huge range of integration activities being completed in the areas of arts, sports, interfaith and social inclusion during 2013."

"We all know that change is inevitable," stated Cllr Leddin, before adding: "However, a society is not measured by the level of change it experiences, but instead by how it responds to such changes. Limerick is succeeding where other places around the world are failing. The people of Limerick have long realised that the challenges, few as they may be, presented by multiculturalism are far outweighed by the many positive opportunities that it brings."

Leas Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Cllr. John Egan joined the Deputy Mayor in paying tribute to the members of the Integration Working Group (IWG) for their continued work in "promoting integration, and informing and involving the local community in dealing with issues of diversity and inclusion."

Cllr. Egan continued: "There is an onus on everyone who lives in Limerick to play their part in promoting integration. We cannot and will not be successful in our efforts unless a community-wide approach is taken on this issue. Much of the credit for the success of both Limerick Integration Plans must go to the collaborative approach that has been applied to their formulation and implementation."

According to Eugene Quinn, Joint-Chair, Limerick City and County Integration Working Group (IWG): " In addition to developing and launching a new integration plan, the IWG undertook specific actions in the priority integration areas of Language, Education, Information, Access to Public Services, Employment, Intercultural Awareness and Supporting Communities were delivered during 2013."

Mr. Quinn added: "Notable achievements included the Africa Day celebrations, in particular the Africa in Harmony concert in St Mary’s Cathedral. A very exciting development last year was that Limerick was selected as a region to be included in the Council of Europe Intercultural Cities project. This provides Limerick the opportunity to dialogue with and exchange best practice with other European cities and regions, including, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, London Lewisham, San Sebastian and Limassol."

Ms. Karen McHugh, IWG Co-Chairperson and CEO of local migrant rights organisation Doras Luimní added: "The Plan supports a vibrant, inclusive and dynamic society in Limerick in which all residents are valued, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnic background. It is very encouraging to see local authorities, service providers and community groups continue to work closely to meet the challenges of integration by implementing a series of actions in a progressive, coordinated way."

"We would like to express our gratitude to all organisations, groups and residents of Limerick city and county, from both migrant and local communities, who have actively and generously supported integration events and actions during 2013," concluded Ms. McHugh.

Today's launch of the Progress Report for 2013 was followed by the announcement of the Programme for Limerick Africa Day/Week 2014, which features a series of events taking place throughout Limerick on May 17th-24th.

Coinciding with City of Culture 2014, organisers have increased the number of events taking place. The programme includes the fifth annual Limerick Sportsfest/Sports Day at Crescent College in Dooradoyle on May 17th, African Storytelling for primary school groups and African Drumming at Limerick City Library on May 21st, a Sounds of Africa Concert at St. Mary’s Cathedral on May 22nd, and a creative writing competition for Secondary Schools and an Art Competition for primary schools.

Meanwhile, this year's Africa Week includes a Symposium focusing on theme “Partners for Growth”. The event takes place at the Hunt Museum on May 23rd and includes such speakers as former Minister for Housing & Planning. Jan O'Sullivan and former Minister of State for Overseas Development. Peter Power.

The annual initiative culminates with a signature concert on Saturday, May 24th, The concert takes place on the grounds of Limerick City Hall and will feature a fusion of African and Irish Music and Culture. There also will be family activities around the main stage with members of the local African community also exhibiting their work

According to Deirdre Minogue of Limerick City and County Council: "The events and activities taking place this year will attempt to promote a positive image of Africa, highlight the Irish Aid programme in Africa, and will also have an education component. We look forward to people from all different backgrounds joining us during Africa Week which takes on added significance this year as we celebrate being Ireland's National City of Culture."

For more on Africa Day/Week Limerick visit www.limerick.ie/integratinglimerick/africaday or www.africaday.ie. The 'Towards Intercultural Limerick: Integration Plan 2013-16' and the 2013 Progress Report tracking its implementation is available online at www.dorasluimni.org.

Last update:09/05/2014

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