Louth VEC launches ethnic minority report

A REPORT on racism and sectarianism in Louth is to be launched in Dundalk today (Tuesday, March 29) at 11am.

A REPORT on racism and sectarianism in Louth is to be launched in Dundalk today (Tuesday, March 29) at 11am.

The Louth VEC is officially launching the report of its Peace III Project ‘Building Capacity of Ethnic Minority Communities’ at Louth County Museum.

According to Louth VEC CEO Dr Padraig Kirk, the report shows how the organisation has been working to reduce racism and sectarianism in schools.

Initially, the project which received an award of e155,000, was to run from September 2009 until December 2010.

However, the project was extended to the end of March 2011. The aim of the project was to support existing and emerging minority groups in Louth.

The report reveals that Louth has an increasingly diverse population with sizeable numbers from Africa, Asia, Lithuania and Poland.

Louth has the highest proportion of black/and or black Irish ethnicity in Ireland with 2.2 per cent of its population in this category compared to national figures of 1.1 per cent.

The project developed a focused approach in one school - St Oliver’s Community College in Drogheda, which has “experienced a number of issues around racism”.

The project also attempted to “build the capacity” of ethnic minority groups in Louth by strengthening relations with the Louth African Women’s Group, Dundalk Polish Community, Eastern Europeans in Louth, the Dundalk Muslim Group and Louth Travellers. The report noted that Travellers are concerned about the approach of “lumping minority groups together” and attempting to provide a single response to their needs.

Sixty-six participants were trained in ‘capacity building skills’ in Louth. The aim was to encourage people to take leading roles in their own communities. It is hoped that the training and facilitation will have created stronger relationships and a greater willingness among minority groups to work together.

“This training gave me the confidence to do something and showed me how important it is to work as part of a group, as united as a group we can do more than one person on their own. This training is the first step for the Polish community here,” said Malgorzata Kozlowska.

Shakira from the Dundalk Women Muslim Community said she really enjoyed the course.