Intercultural strategy for the county launched

Pauline Scott The Urdu version of the intercultural strategy for County Roscommon which was launched last week should be a collector’s item in years to come.    The presence of the Indian language among the eight languages in which the booklet was published reflects the increased cultural diversity in Co. Roscommon in recent years and the strategy examines how best to plan for cultural diversity so that everyone benefits from the services being provided. The County Roscommon Equality Statement, contained in the newly-published booklet states that County Roscommon will, through its people and institutions, promote inclusion and equal opportunities and ensure full involvement in society on all levels. It also aims to celebrate the growing ethnic diversity and seeks to guarantee protection against racism. Finally, it aims to have services in the county which respect and take account of the needs of ethnic minorities in education, health, social services and childcare, accommodation and the administration of justice. The changing demography of County Roscommon is examined in the plan and makes for interesting reading. For example, according to the Central Statistics Office, in 2002 there was a three percent ethnic variation in Irish society. It is projected that there will be an eighteen percent variation by 2030. This represents a major shift from an ethnically homogenous society to an ethnically diverse society within a short space of time. Travellers are a small but significant ethnic minority in County Roscommon. According to CSO census figures from 2006, Travellers make up 0.6 percent of the total nationally and Roscommon is home to sixty-four families or 366 individuals. There are less than one hundred refugees in County Roscommon and all of those registered come from Chechnya and reside in Roscommon town. There are sixty-five asylum seekers in a facility in Ballaghaderreen. They are predominantly African, Nigerian, Somalian, Congolese and Zimbabwean with a few Romanian asylum seekers.  Eastern Europeans are the largest collective group of ethnic minorities in Roscommon. The come predominantly from EU Accession countries and have no restrictions in terms of employment and movement. The main ethnic sub group in this category is Polish, with lesser numbers of Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, Czech and Slovak. The report also notes the presence of a small but strong Pakistani community in Co. Roscommon, mainly in Ballaghaderreen. It is estimated that there ware a total of 130 people from Pakistan and India in the county with a further one hundred of Indian origin in the Monksland area of Athlone. Well over three hundred Brazilians are living and working in Roscommon town. They have their own community radio show once a week and contribute regularly to local newspapers. Copies of the plan are available in eight languages from Roscommon County Development Board, Courthouse, Roscommon.