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I am encouraged by your practical commitment to the care of migrants as reported in the Irish Examiner (1st and 3rd September 2015) and support the proposal for an interagency forum.
Such a forum might begin with a shared vision for Government, voluntary organisations and civic society would help to mobilise and to assure people of goodwill as to how the response would come to fruition on the ground.
This vision would indicate how migrants might connect and interact with local people arising from the locality of residence, schools, recreation clubs, etc. Already, there are models of good practice in local festivals, teams etc. especially in country towns.
Unless this interaction is promoted, even the basic and invaluable services of income support, health care, accommodation and security could be experienced in an impersonal and untrusting manner — leading to unnecessary frustration and alienation.
Social planning would seek to avoid locating migrants in large numbers so as to become visible outsiders and not to locate them among already seriously disadvantaged local people which tends to engender hostility and resentment.
Migrants would be encouraged in their own culture and religious practice and recovery from trauma as their gifts to Ireland while also being enabled to adapt to local culture and expectations.
An Interagency forum would be a positive beginning and would offer a mutually enriching vision for migrants and local people alike. This would move us beyond our European Unions ‘duty’ into a noble investment in people who are desperate.
Fr. Donal Linehan,
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