Limerick has become the first city in Ireland, outside of Dublin to become an official member of the Intercultural Cities Network, an international grouping of cities which works to develop new ideas and practices concerning migrant integration.
A delegation from the Council of Europe is in Limerick as part of a four-day verification visit which will sees the city join 66 other cities around the world as network members.
Limerick’s inclusion in the Intercultural Cities Network is being led by the Limerick City and County Integration Working Group, in conjunction with Limerick City and County Council.
Migrants presently make up almost 10 per cent of the overall population of Limerick city and county.
At the launch of the programme it was heard that language is still a major challenge for many immigrants particular stay at home mums, some of whom have been here for ten years but still do not speak English.
Speaking at the launch Deirdre Minogue, Community Department, Limerick City and County Council, said she was not surprised to hear about the language difficulties.
“This is a typical phenomenon everywhere so I am not overly surprised but it does encourage us to to look at migrant language provision. We do have extensive English language provision in Limerick city but the difficulty is if poeple are going back into their own community and speaking their own language then they don’t have the experience of speaking English on a day to day basis,” she said.
Irene Guidikova, Manager of the Intercultural cities programme, Council of Europe, referred to the City Mothers programme established in a suburb in Berlin which has been replicated in other cities.
“This is a programme where women are trained to inform other mothers who do not speak German, on how to access education and health systems. They literally call to the homes of these woman and it is a programme that has been successfully rolled out in other cities,” she said.
During their visit to Limerick, Council of Europe members will visit local immigrant support organisations and receive a briefing on Doras Luimni’s ‘Anti-Rumours Campaign’ which is aimed at fighting racism and tackling myths about immigrants.