Representatives from local authorities across Ireland gathered for a specially organised conference last week to discuss migrant integration.
The conference, entitled “Supporting Integrated Communities: Linking National and Local Action on Migrant Integration”, discussed Ireland’s strategy to improve integration of migrants into local communities.
The conference was opened by the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration at the Department of Justice and Equality, Mr. David Stanton.
The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration (OPMI) hosted the conference and it was chaired by Oonagh Buckley, Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality.
Delegates at the conference explored ways that both local and national government can work together to ensure that migrants can play a full part in Ireland’s cities, towns and rural communities.
Minister Stanton stated that:
“Local Authorities have a critical role to play in the migrant integration process, so I am delighted that we have had the opportunity to engage with them and learn more about the proactive efforts they are taking and how we can work together more effectively…
The national Migrant Integration Strategy lays out a clear path for us to improve our migrant integration processes across local and national government. The Department of Justice and Equality is committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that migrants continue to be welcomed and integrated into Irish life and society.”
A number of guest speakers attended the conference, including:
- Ekain Larrinaga Muguruza, who is in charge of the Immigration and Interculturality Unit in the Getxo City Council (Basque Country, Spain)
- Sølve Særtre, who works for the City of Bergen (Norway), as a special advisor in the Department for Social Affairs
- Robin Wilson, who is an independent researcher based in Belfast and serves as advisor to the Council of Europe on intercultural integration
Integration in Ireland
Back in December of last year, Ireland was ranked sixth out of 52 countries in a new report on immigrant integration policies.
The report was published by Ireland’s Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) and focuses on the areas of family reunion, education, labour market, permanent residence, political participation, access to nationality, health and anti-discrimination.
Ireland’s MIPEX score was 64 out of 100 in 2019, which was slightly above western Europe’s average. The report also mentioned that Ireland is becoming more attractive as a global destination.
It highlighted the positive steps Ireland has taken in integrating migrants, such as bringing migrants into the teacher workforce, support for research on migrant health and anti-discrimination policies in education.
The areas of health, education and political participation all scored highly, whereas labour market access, family reunification and permanent residency were all areas for improvement.
The report said that Ireland’s policies “encourage the public to see immigrants as their neighbours and their equals, but not yet as full citizens”.
Just last week, there were calls for migrant healthcare workers to be given Irish citizenship after their tireless work during Covid-19.
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