New four-year strategy to encourage integration of migrants
By Darragh Heavey & Chinedu Onyejelem
Government plans to mainstream migrant integration have been unveiled.
The Migrant Integration Strategy, recently launched by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, provides a ‘holistic framework’ to integrate Ireland’s disparate immigrant communities over the next four years.
“Ireland is increasingly diverse,” said Minister Fitzgerald at the launch in Dublin’s Wood Quay Venue. “Integration has to become part of our DNA so that its benefits can be felt by migrants, refugees and by society as a whole.”
The minister said the plan would see all areas of Irish life “stimulate action on integration” aimed at encouraging immigrants to “actively and constructively” play a greater part in their new home.
“Measures are proposed to encourage greater participation in public sector employment, including in the civil service, on State boards and in politics,” she added. “Networks will be used to communicate information to hard-to-reach groups and to enable their voices to be heard.
“The strategy has a priority to ensure that mainstream services, such as in health, education, social protection and employment, are responsive to the needs of migrants. Targeted measures will also be developed to address particular issues.”
Irish businesses can also play their part, she said, in “ensuring that integration becomes a fact of life in their areas and sectors”.
Minister Fitzgerald con-cluded: “This is a job for all of us. It is in our interests that we get this right, that migrants truly consider Ireland to be their home. Their talent and energy can help to build a better future for us all.”
Also launched on Tuesday 7 February was a new €500,000 Communities Integration Fund for 2017.
“Communities play a key role in promoting integration and in making migrants and refugees feel welcome,” said Minister of State for Integration David Stanton.
“I have been struck by the level of good will among communities towards refugees and migrants. I want to build on that good will and to equip communities to take practical action to support integration.”
A maximum of €5,000 will be granted to successful community groups for activities such as introducing new migrants to the community, and encouraging participation in local civil and cultural events.
The funding will also support actions that support involvement in local sports clubs, youth clubs and the like, as well as measures to link migrants with opportunities in the community, including employment.
Minister Stanton said these “concrete actions” will not only support integration but will help native Irish communities “reach out to migrants and refugees in their areas”.