The Mayor of South Dublin County Council (SDCC) Cllr. Mark Ward officially launched SDCC’s Integration Strategy 2019 – 2023 ‘A More Inclusive County’. In his speech Mayor Ward acknowledged the “positive contribution to South Dublin” that the migrant communities “have already made and will continue to make”. The Mayor went on to say that “the foundation of any strategy must be the lived experience of those it is intended to serve” and that “this is not just a strategy for South Dublin County Council alone, it is for the County” that “the onus is on us all as partner organisations and individual citizens, to ensure the actions identified in ‘A More Inclusive County’ are realised”.

Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan, Chairperson of the Social and Community Strategic Policy Committee spoke about ‘A More Inclusive County’ and how the each of the “56 actions listed under the five strategic themes of: (1) Inclusive Communities (2) Lifelong Learning (3) Enterprise and Employment (4) Health and Wellbeing and (5) Inclusive Service Delivery have clearly identified ‘success indicators’ so that we can ensure these actions are progressed and targets set are achieved”. Cllr O’Donovan described the strategy “as not a stand-alone document. It must underpin our approach to service delivery and inform our plans and policies across the Council to ensure there are equal and fair opportunities for members of migrant communities.” She also acknowledged “the role of my colleagues on the Social and Community Strategic Policy Committee have played in developing this Policy. As a committee of the Council, our role is to advise and assist the Council in the formulation, development and review of policy.  The Committee has completed its task diligently in this regard.”

Finally, Daniela Jurj, a volunteer with the Romanian Community of Ireland and member of the South Dublin Migrant Integration Forum spoke about the importance of the strategy for new communities in South Dublin and also her experience living and integrating into Ireland since moving here 18 years ago.  She commended South Dublin County Council’s Social Inclusion Unit and the work of the South Dublin Migrant Integration Forum. She added she is looking forward to South Dublin County Council’s annual Flavours Food Festival, Health and Wellbeing Week and Social Inclusion Week and the opportunities for members of migrant communities to take part. The evening was a great success with entertainment from a local choir from MacUillaim Estate known as the “Soulworks Singers” and a special performance from Nia Thekkumthala, a talented young dancer from India, who performed a traditional Indian dance.