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Diasporia News of Saturday, 18 June 2011

Source: AGPI Secretariat

AGPI hosts international workshop on racism

The Association of Ghanaian Professionals in Ireland (AGPI) have held an international workshop on racism and discrimination against migrant women living in Europe at the Clarion Hotel in Liffey Valley, Dublin 22. The workshop on the topic ‘How to tackle stereotypes that are at the roof of racism’ was co-sponsored by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission as part of the project ‘Where the rivers meet’. Representatives from partner organisations in Spain, Italy, Austria and Romania were in attendance at this all important international workshop. Also in attendance were representatives of thirty eight voluntary organisations and civil society groups in Ireland as well as representatives of the Community Relations and Community Policing Division of the Irish Police Service, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Netherlands Embassy, the Kenyan Embassy and the Irish Socialist Party.

In his welcome address, the Chairperson of AGPI, Dr Vincent Agyapong underscored the need for all efforts to be made in uprooting the canker of racism from all nations, stressing that racism against migrant women living in Europe was regrettably very rampant. He expressed his gratitude to the European Commission for supporting this multi-country initiative aimed at helping to combat this menace in European countries.

Ms. Paula Llobet Vilarrasa, the Projects Finacial Manager and representative from Spain explained the vision behind the project. She also led the introduction of the representatives from partner organisations in Austria, Italy and Romania.

The Project Coordinator for Ireland and AGPI’s Director of Programmes, Mrs. Belinda Agyapong delivered a presentation on the project ‘Where the rivers meet’. She indicated that the first phase of the project had concluded with each partner organizing 40 hours of social theatre facilitation workshops on racism. She also indicated that the second phase of the project had just commenced in each partner country and involves over eighty hours of drama workshops and rehearsals of a play written around the life stories of women participants. She stated that the plays would be staged by all partner organizations at an international social theatre festival to be held in Valencia in the second half of April 2012.

Ms. Anna Volpi, the Project Facilitator from Italy also made a presentation on the use of social theatre as an integration instrument.

In an address read on behalf, the South African Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Mr. A. J. D. Ndou recounted horrific incidents of racist abuse during South Africa’s struggle against white minority rule. He said that the legacy of apartheid could only be removed through a sustained commitment of both the leaders and the people of South Africa.

Speaking on the topic, - 'Policing Diversity in an Intercultural Ireland', Ms. Nuala Finn a Community Relations and Community Policing Officer encouraged immigrants in Ireland to report all incidents of racist abuse to the authorities. She said her unit was in the process of producing anti-racist posters which would be posted in all Garda stations throughout Ireland.

Mr. Brian Killoran, the Information Officer with the Immigrant Council of Ireland stated that there were several misconceptions surrounding the contribution of immigrants to Irish society which are at the root of most racist attacks against migrant. He said that unless some of these misconceptions are corrected, it would be difficult to win the fight against racism. He welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Justice, Mr. Allan Shatter that his Department intends to overhaul the Irish naturalization process and make it more welcoming to immigrants.

Making his contribution, the leader of the Irish Socialist Party, Mr. Joe Higgins, a former member of the European Parliament who is presently a member of the Irish Parliament and the leader of the technical group of independent Parliamentarians stated that Irelands current economic crisis was not the creation of immigrants but of right wing politicians and their corrupt associates in the banking and building industries. He said racism was unheard off in Ireland just twenty years ago because Ireland did not have any foreigners. He reminded participants that for centuries, Irish citizens emigrated to other countries, including the U.K and U.S.A in search of a better life and he wondered why some Irish would not be welcoming of immigrants given this history.

There were also contribution from several participants as well as a question and answer session.

The master of ceremony was Mr. Torsby Attipoe, an ICT consultant.

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