Immigration “one of the biggest challenges this century”: Mediation NI
by Lise McGREEVY for Northern Ireland Foundation
23 January 2014
As David Cameron dictates to ministers not to oppose a rebel amendment to the Immigration Bill when MPs vote on it, and the Government agrees to participate in the UN’s project to take in Syrian refugees (in addition to the millions of global migrants who have come into Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain in recent years), Mary McAnuly of Mediation Northern Ireland declared, “Mass migration is probably one of the biggest challenges the world faces in this century.”
“Yet our views — and those of our politicians — remain caught between two extremes: popular hostility to migrants, tinged by xenophobia and racism; and the view of business and liberal elites that ‘open doors’ are both economically and ethically imperative,” said Mary.
Talking following the viewing of one of Women War Peace documentary series at her organisation’s Belfast headquarters, she added: “With migration set to accelerate, few issues are so urgently in need of dispassionate analysis — and few are more incendiary as we have noticed in the recent months.”
When asked whether he agreed that immigration is one of the biggest global issues, renowned ‘Spotlight’ Investigative Journalist, Darragh McIntyre, said: “Although I have not investigated this question myself, there have been two sides reported widely on this issue, on one hand that it is good for the economy and the other hand reports that immigration causes its own problems.”
He added that he felt that the issues arising from the influx of immigration in the Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole “affect working class people rather than the middle or upper classes, and it is the people living in such areas, locals and immigrants alike, who should be listened to”.
Darragh believes that people in power “should go into these areas and talk to those living there” to see first-hand in order to understand what is really happening and how these massive changes in increased diversity, culture, language and ethnic beliefs affect all those who are living together in the middle of these multi-cultural areas.
Mary said: “Migration is a fact, and we urgently need to think clearly about its possibilities and challenges: it is not a question of whether migration is good or bad, but how much is best? And how can we do it differently?”
She added, “In developing healthy, resilient communities in Northern Ireland, we need to boldly imagine how we can do diversity better. We have less numbers that other UK cities of newly arrived immigrants, and our experience and understanding of war and violence can allow for a different response.”