Newry.ie

 DIVERSE CITY

Celebrating Newry's new residents and our new neighbours.

A new permanant section on Newry.ie brought to you with the support of the Community Relations Council

 

''Everywhere, immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life,'' wrote John F Kennedy in his 1958 book 'A Nation of Immigrants'.

All four of the former US president's grandparents were children of Irish immigrants who had fled their homeland in the 1840s to escape the devastating potato famine and make for themselves a new, prosperous life.

Kennedy was acutely aware of the driving force that saw almost two million desperate people risk everything by boarding notorious 'coffin ships' and making the treacherous two-month journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

"I am very proud of the diverse nature of our district." Cllr Mark Murnin, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

He also understood the crucial role the Irish - and the many other nationalities that made America their home at that time - had in shaping the US economically, culturally and socially.

Between 2000 and 2014, around 6,000 international migrants moved to Newry, Mourne and Down to live permanently.

Like Kennedy's forefathers, they moved to pursue a better quality of life for them and their families - a basic and fundamental human right.

And like the Irish diaspora before them, they came to contribute, to be accepted, and to make a difference.

''The arrival of people from Poland and other European countries from 2004 onwards has had a very positive effect on our communities here,'' says Newry-based Polish Consul Jerome Mullen.

''These European citizens have brought many skills that we no longer have, and a work ethic that is very refreshing and greatly welcomed by our employers here in Newry.

''They have also brought with them their own unique culture and traditions and this has been a very enriching experience for us to see.

''I have had the honour over the past 10 years to represent Poland and its citizens all over Northern Ireland, who are by far the largest of the European communities living here and while there have been some challenges, especially around language, they have integrated very well with our local community.

''They have greatly enriched our lives and I believe our own cultural background of emigration to many parts of the world has helped us in embracing their presence amongst us.

“That was a very important thing for us to do and we did it.''

Nationals from Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria make up the greatest number of the 6,000 migrants currently living in the Newry area.

However, many other nationalities now call this city their home; Romanians, Slovaks, Chinese, Filipinos, Latvians, Indian, Portuguese, Pakistan, Syrians and people from various African countries.

And contrary to lazy, unfounded stereotypes, most immigrants that live in Newry are, in fact, employed.

Indeed, many play a crucial role in numerous city businesses.

This does not, however, mean they have ‘stolen 'local jobs’, another unfounded claim; unemployment levels have decreased dramatically over the last two decades.

Young people from all parts of Europe and further afield can call Newry their home.
Young people from all parts of Europe and further afield call Newry their home.

In 1991, Newry had one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK at a staggering 26 per cent.

By 2008 – at the height of movement into the area by new nationals - it had dropped to just two per cent.

The number of Newcomer Pupils - children that have enrolled in a school but may not have the satisfactory language skills to participate fully in the school curriculum - rose by almost 75 per cent in Northern Ireland between 2008 and 2014.

Again, rather than a burden or setback to local schools, local principals say pupils from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds have enriched and enhanced school life.

This week, Newry, Mourne and Down Council chairman, Mark Murnin, met with Syrian families that have recently settled in our district.

He said this Council has been a leading example in embracing new communities and promoting inclusion.

“As chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, I am very proud of the diverse nature of our district.

“This region has always been a welcoming one and I believe those that have this district their home have and continue to contribute greatly to its cultural, social and economic wellbeing.

“In our civic leader function, our Council has been an exemplar in ensuring that equality and inclusion is at the forefront in how we embrace communities.

“The Council’s Ethnic Minority Support Centre is a clear demonstration of partnership working which addresses affecting our minority communities.

“Together as a community, we are building a shared future for all.”.

Newry - A Diverse City

This is the first of a series of weekly essays and videos under the title 'Diverse City'.

Kirovsk is twinned with Newry and residents of the Russian city regularly engage with Newry schools and events.
Kirovsk is twinned with Newry and residents of the Russian city regularly engage with Newry schools and events.

These will showcase and personalise the people that have made Newry their home and have helped develop and enrich our diverse, vibrant city.

We will strive to show our new neighbours as what they are - valuable members of our Newry community who, like many of our own ancestors, sought an opportunity of a better life and to have a positive impact in their new surroundings.

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DIVERSE CITY VIDEO

Alice Martins Ruas - Diverse City
Alice Martins Ruas - Diverse City
Portugal born Alice Martins Ruas talks about her experiences moving to Newry and her time at Our Lady’s Grammar School in the city.

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