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Africa Day

30 May 2008

Order of Business

Senator Ivana Bacik: I wish to ask the Leader for a debate on the level of integration of migrants in Ireland as this is an important issue. In the past week we celebrated Africa day and I understand it was a huge success that saw great events held, especially in Dublin's city centre. Last week, in light of Africa day, I had the pleasure to launch a report produced by AkiDwA, a network of African and other migrant women living in Ireland that has done great research work on the experiences of migrant women in Ireland and the ways in which integration could be improved for them. The report was on gender-based violence, particularly its incidence in the African community in Ireland, and how services here can best deal with violence in particular communities. One of the report's most important recommendations was that services here should be culturally specific when dealing with African women and women from other ethnic minorities.

In today's newspaper a further report, commissioned by the Immigrant Council of Ireland and published by UCD researchers, was referred to. That report found, alarmingly, that there are very low levels of integration of immigrants in Ireland from a number of different communities. It studied Nigerian, Chinese, Indian and Lithuanian communities in Ireland and made the point that many members of those communities would like greater social interaction with local residents but lacked the opportunity to do so. This is something AkiDwA has also highlighted. We have migrants living here with high levels of qualifications and skills but are not using them. The skills of migrants tend to be overlooked and they can be left working in jobs beneath their qualifications. We need a debate on this matter to see how we can improve integration, upskill migrants and ensure they work in jobs appropriate to their skills.