Following a conference in the Bracken Court Hotel in Balbriggan on migrant integration local Green Party representative Joe O’Brien has called on local community, political and business leaders to ‘start taking the issue of migrant integration in the town seriously’.
The ‘Inspiring Integration Conference’was an initiative of Cairde a community development organisation working to tackle health inequalities among ethnic minority communities. Cairde’s Balbriggan office is based out of Old St.George’s School.
Mr. O’Brien stated that ‘It is high time the business, community and political leaders of Balbriggan got together with migrants in facilitating integration much more proactively. We have already seen how a lack of vision, planning and leadership has led to schools almost entirely consisting of migrant children. We don’t want a situation where we have a new and an old Balbriggan – there is only one Balbriggan and it is for everyone. While the event was part sponsored by Fingal County Council it is very disappointing to see no public representatives from Fingal County Council at this very important event. It shows a lack of interest in all the people of Balbriggan and a lack of awareness of the challenges facing the town.’ Mr. O’Brien has worked on migrant integration issues for 8 years with the NGO Crosscare.
The conference brought contributors from Mayo and as far afield as Canada to show examples of best practice migrant integration projects. Monica-Anne Brennan Manager of the Toronto based Mentoring Partnership explained how her organisation encouraged local employers and professionals to help migrants gain the local knowledge and skills to get that crucial first job.