On Saturday 11th May, Labour Intercultural held an event on the Impact of Ethnic Minorities in Irish politics. This event came about when Remba Osengo, a member of the Labour Party in DunLaoghaire approached the group to organise a conference where ethnic minority community leaders could engage with the party and it’s public representatives.
Speaking at the event Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton noted the changes in her own constituency, Dublin West, over the past twenty years. She emphasised how Ireland has only a small fraction of time to adapt to a multi-ethnic population compared to countries such as Britain giving the examples of the UK and Germany where the process happened ‘over a 50-60 year period’.
The minister said there was room for improvement, but Ireland had done relatively well in absorbing the many new arrivals from different countries since the Celtic Tiger period. â€œTwenty years ago Ireland was very homogeneous,â€ she told the audience largely composed of ethnic community representatives.
Professor Bryan Fanning from UCD addressing the event said that members of ethnic minorities who wanted to stand for public office should root themselves in their local community. He added that people did not have to be full citizens to stand in local elections, and there have been some successes in that arena, such as Nigerian-born Rotimi Adebari, who became mayor of Portlaoise in 2007.
“Maybe they [members of minorities] need to be more vociferous in what they are asking for,â€ Professor Fanning said. He said Ireland was an interesting contrast in that it had â€œa society that is very diverse, and polity that is very monocultural.”
Dublin MEP Emer Costello, noted the number of new citizens since the the government had come into office and encouraged them to register to vote and to use their vote in referendums and elections. She said that
Dr Jaroslaw Plachecki, lecturer in social sciences at Dublin City University and editor of the Irish Polish Society Review, told the gathering that his experience of young Polish people in Ireland was that they knew practically nothing about the political process.
Also Speaking at the event was Solicitor Michelle Lee, who informed the audience of the employment law situation for immigrants.
Labour Intercultural will be holding similar events in the future and working with the elected representatives in the Labour Party to ensure that the issues of ethnic minorities are highlighted.
By Karen McCormack (Co-Chair 087 293 2828)
IRELAND’S debt masters have warned the Government must rein in its runaway health budget if it is to continue reaching its bailout targets.
As the latest review of Ireland’s bailout began, the European-International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika singled out under-fire Health Minister Dr James Reilly and demanded he strengthen financial management of his department.
“The mission starting today will focus on ensuring that Ireland’s remaining fiscal adjustment is durable, growth-friendly and in line with programme targets in a way that burden-sharing is fair and that the most vulnerable are protected,” said a European Commission source.
“It will focus on strengthening budgetary management in the health sector to ensure that it can deliver desired objectives within budget.”
The latest review from the Troika – the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank – is the eighth of its kind since Ireland struck a bailout deal in 2010.
The ministers met officials from the Troika in Dublin on day one.
Ireland was deemed to be on track in its bailout progress following the Troika’s last review.
But with the latest European Union summit to take place in Brussels later this week in advance of Ireland taking over the European Commission presidency in January, disputes have broken out over a debt deal.
At a briefing at the EC headquarters in Brussels, Ms Costello said Ireland must be seen to act in a neutral manner when taking the presidency.
“Certainly as the holders of the presidency and chairing the various different meetings in a neutral capacity it does make it more difficult because the tradition is that the country of the presidency would not act in a self-interested way,” she said.
Ireland’s bailout chiefs injected €1bn into the economy following its last review in July.