Twenty five years ago, President Mary Robinson put a light in the window of Áras an Uachtaráin as a beacon of hope, a signal to Ireland’s emigrants that our Diaspora were not forgotten. Today, we live in a very different Ireland, but that light still shines as a beacon of hope, not just for Ireland’s diaspora but also to welcome Ireland’s newest citizens to the country they now call home.
The Mary Robinson Centre’s mission is to perpetuate the ideals and work of Mary Robinson’s career and to inspire others in that same way. An important part of Mary’s work through the years has been to give a voice to those who don’t have one. The ‘Immigration and Ireland’ seminar at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life and the exhibition it accompanies ‘Migrant Women: Shared Experiences’ both give voice to very different perspectives of Mayo and its people.
During the seminar, keynote speaker and Visiting Scholar at The Mary Robinson Centre Professor Jane Freedman gave voice to migrants and refugees who are still on their journey to reach safety and security in Europe based on her first hand experiences visiting refugee camps across Europe – a rare voice that we seldom hear, but a very important part of the conversation. And who knows, some of these self-same migrants may yet call Mayo home!
Blessing Moyo, facilitator of the seminar, echoed the wishes of Mary Robinson herself in summing up the day’s events. The work of The Mary Robinson Centre must make us ask questions of ourselves, and we must be compelled to take action on behalf of others. Blessing challenged participants, reminding us of the answer to the often asked question ‘What can I do?’, saying ‘We can use our voices, we can give voice to others’. And that, that is what we must do.
For more information about the Immigration and Ireland Seminar, see the National Museum's website: http://www.museum.ie/Country-Life/Events-Projects/Seminar-Immigration-and-Ireland
Coverage of the event in the Irish Times here: "Direct Provision has to go!"
More pictures of the day can be found on our Facebook page.
The Inclusive Centenaries Conference, which took place today, Friday 17th of June, ahead of World Refugee Day on Monday, was to be a space for reflection on the meaning and significance today of the ideals set out in the 1916 Proclamation from the perspective of Ireland’s newest communities. In a spirit of dialogue and celebration of Ireland’s diversity in 2016, Inclusive Centenaries brought together people living in direct provision – especially women and young people – as well as members of other immigrant and local communities, elected representatives, policy advocates and NUI Galway leaders and decision makers.
As part of the conference, NUI Galway launched a new, merit-based Inclusive Centenaries Scholarship Scheme with support from Galway University Foundation. This national pilot scheme aims to assist high-achieving, second-level school leavers from Ireland’s newest communities to pursue their third-level educational goals at NUI Galway, to realise their full potential, and to contribute to shaping Ireland of today and tomorrow.
Pictured: Minister of State for Justice, David Stanton TD with student Victoria Chihumura
Minister David Stanton TD, the newly appointed Minister of State for Justice with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, said during his address that the Government is committed to further improving the living conditions in the State provided accommodation through the provision of enhanced catering facilities and increased living space for families and children. The Minister also noted that the accommodation system would come within the remit of the Ombudsman and the Office of the Ombudsman of Children.
The opening conference keynote address was delivered by former Justice Bryan McMahon, Chairperson of the Government’s Working Group on the Protection Process, including reform of direct provision. McMahon spoke strongly about the need to reform Direct Provision and that the Irish people supported doing so.
Other sessions at the conference included:
“Women Voices” was coordinated by Blessing Siphathisiwe Moyo and performed by the Eglinton Self Help Group who are currently living in direct provision in the Eglinton Hotel. The performance also includes students from St. Enda's College in Galway.
“Cherishing all the Children of the Nation: Voices of Young People Living in Direct Provision” featured moving speeches from young people currently living in direct provision in Galway, and a performance entitled “Endless Possibilities” through which the young people expressed their aspiration to be allowed to partake in third-level education and improve their living conditions within direct provision, as well to raise awareness of the inequalities of the system. The group premiered their original song “Shaping Futures” about educational inequality, under their group name “The Key” as part of this presentation.
“Inclusive Centenaries, Women’s Voices” featured presentations by Mercedes Varona an entrepreneur originally from Cuba, Ludmila Snigireva, representing Russian speaking migrants and Simmy Ndlovu, from Zimbabwe, reflecting on her journey from seeking asylum to integration. This session was moderated by Dr Nata Duvvury, NUI Galway, and our Visiting Scholar, Professor Jane Freedman spoke as discussant.
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, currently UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on El Nino and Climate was unable to deliver the closing address and launch of the Galway Intercultural Forum Resource Booklet 2016 as planned, but sent her compliments on the new scholarship scheme “The new scholarship launched by NUI Galway today is a very fitting expression of the Inclusive Centenaries theme – it captures the traditional value placed on education in Ireland while looking forward and supporting young people in new communities to follow their educational dreams.”
The Inclusive Centenaries Conference was funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations scheme and organised jointly by the Centre for Global Women’s Studies, School of Political Science and Sociology, the School of Law, and the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway in partnership with The Mary Robinson Centre, Ballina and local partners: Galway County Council, Galway County Council Intercultural Forum, Youth Work Ireland, Galway and Galway City Partnership Intercultural Consortium and the vital input and inspiration from the Eglinton Self Help Group.
Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Drs Niamh Reilly and Ciara Smyth said: “Today’s presentations and performances by members of ‘new’ communities, especially young people, have reminded us that realising the values of the 1916 Proclamation is something that we all wish for and that education can be a shared journey that gets us there together.”
For details on the Inclusive Centenaries Scholarship please see http://www.nuigalway.ie/scholarships/
Further coverage of the scholarship launch can be found here: http://www.universitytimes.ie/2016/06/with-new-scholarship-nuig-to-support-students-from-irelands-newest-communities/
The Mary Robinson Centre welcomes our First Visiting Scholar, Professor Jane Freedman from Université de Paris
This week The Mary Robinson Centre welcomes its first International Visiting Scholar Jane Freedman. Jane is Professor of Politics at Université de Paris 8, where she leads major international research projects on asylum and migration and violence against women. She is also a Specialist in Gender Equality with UNESCO, Paris on issues relating to: Women asylum and migration; Prevention of violence against women; Gender, peace and security; and Women’s political participation, and has published extensively in both English and French.
Today, Tuesday 14th of June, in conjunction with The Centre for Global Women’s Studies, NUI Galway, we hosted a public book launch for Professor Freedman for her most recent book: Gender, Violence and Politics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Ashgate, 2015). During the launch, Jane spoke about the complexities of both the war and gender based violence (both in conflict and non conflict zones) in the DRC, stating "There is no one explanation for gender or any other sort of violence," and described some of the intricacies of issues facing the country. The talk was absolutely fascinating and left the audience keen to find out more!
During her time as Visiting Scholar at The Mary Robinson Centre, Professor Freedman will be speaking at two further events this week.
Friday 17th of June - Professor Freedman is speaking at Inclusive Centenaries, an event hosted in collaboration between NUI Galway, the Galway County Council Intercultural Forum and The Mary Robinson Centre, in Galway. This event will include three workshops aimed at an enhanced understanding among the wider community and decision makers about the experiences and perspectives of members of the asylum/refugee community in Ireland in 2016, especially of people living in direct provision. Mary Robinson, David Stanton TD, Minister of State for Justice with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration and former Justice Bryan McMahon are also among the line-up of keynote speakers at the Inclusive Centenaries conference.
Saturday 18th of June – The National Museum of Ireland, Country Life is hosting a full day workshop Immigration and Ireland with a focus on women. It will explore the impact of immigrant policies on individuals and communities in Irish society and Professor Freedman will be giving the keynote address “Women's Experiences in New and Ongoing Refugee Crises.” It is organised as part of the Museum’s temporary exhibition Migrant Women - Shared Experiences. http://www.museum.ie/Country-Life/Events-Projects/Seminar-Immigration-and-Ireland
In addition to the activities above, Professor Freedman will also spend time during the week collaborating with The Mary Robinson Centre and the Centre for Global Women's Studies to generate commentaries, essays and articles that will be disseminated after her visit. We are absolutely delighted to have Professor Freedman join us and look forward to hearing her share insight and knowledge at our events later in the week.
About the Visiting Scholars Programme:
The Mary Robinson Centre hosts the International Visiting Scholars Programme in partnership with the Centre for Global Women’s Studies, National University of Ireland Galway. The Visiting Scholars initiative is a vital component of the academic programme and aims to bring together international scholars, experienced practitioners, and engaged communities to generate new thinking to effectively address pressing global issues. A commitment to promoting women’s participation and leadership in implementing the sustainable development goals and devising human rights-based solutions to contemporary challenges, especially in relation to conflict, forced migration and sustainable livelihoods – underpins The Mary Robinson Centre’s International Visiting Scholars programme.