|Report from the event by Vanda Marie Macion Brady
Next Chapter participant from the local Cavan Chapter
Philippine Labour Attaché Assistant Secretary Amuerfina R. Reyes of the Philippine Embassy in the UK and Raymond Garrett, Philippine Honorary Consul to Ireland first spoke about the Philippines and Filipino migrants to a diverse multicultural and multi-sectoral audience. The forum was then welcomed by Philippine Anastasia Crickley who is a Community Worker, Academic and Lifelong Human Rights and Anti-Racism Campaigner and Former Elected Member and Chairperson of the UN Treaty Body on Racism with connections to the Philippines through late husband and former Columban Priest John O’Connell. Local politicians and public representatives from the border region of Northern Ireland and Ireland attended the event including Brendan Smith, T.D. for Cavan & Monaghan & Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party Chairman, Former Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade and Border Region Development
To set the tone of the Panel Discussions speakers from different backgrounds and nationalities presented their thoughts on “Brexit and My Hope for the Future”. Speakers included:
The Panel Discussions started with informative and empowering talks given by the following distinguished panelists and this was followed by a Q & A Session:
- Victor Cosingan - Mission Head, Couples for Christ Ireland
- Stanley Nwaneri - Migrant Rights Centre Ireland & Cavan Cross Cultural Community (4C)
- Valentina Kackiuka - Latvian Migrant, Sheelin Mushrooms Picker/Packer
- Agnieszka Adamska - Polish School Principal
- Malwina Łukaszewicz - Polish Student
- Donata Simonaitiene - Lithuanian School Principal & ESOL Tutor
- Lori Gatsi-Barnet– Zimbabwean Global Citizen & Entrepreneur, Next Chapter participant from Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh Chapter
Ms. Crickley emphasised that the Brexit discussion should now go beyond a political argument and to start looking at challenges it would bring with regard to migrant rights and labour rights. She encouraged everyone from different groups to begin naming the things that they want to happen, she pushed politicians in Ireland to create practical conditions where Brexit should not affect us to the ultimate extremes, and to do all this in a way that celebrates diversity and inclusion.
- Bronagh Hinds (Northern Ireland), UN Expert on Women’s Engagement in Peace Processes & Previous Participant of the Good Friday Agreement
- Bridget Boyle (Ireland - Cavan), Access Officer & Disability Activist
- Daniel Downey (Ireland - Cavan), Cavan Public Participation Resource Worker
- Frances Shiels (Northern Ireland) - Advocate of Transgender & Intersex Individuals, Founder of Focus: The Identity Trust, Next Chapter participant from Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh Chapter
- Ping Cao (Ireland – Louth) – Chinese Migrant & Lecturer/Researcher at Dundalk Institute of Technology, Next Chapter participant from Louth Chapter
- Uruemu Adejinmi (Ireland - Longford) Longford Africans Network and Social Inclusion Advocate
Bronagh Hinds brought to light that when Brexit happens, we should negotiate a result for Northern Ireland that is compatible with the Good Friday Agreement which foresaw greater harmonisation between North and South, and that we must all work towards the continuing evolution of relationships between both parts of Ireland as seen in that Agreement. She added the effect of Brexit on citizen rights and health rights in the North and the South, and that Brexit should not only involve one political party but to also hear all voices including marginalised communities.
Advocate for Transgender and Intersexual Individuals Frances Shiels from Northern Ireland said in her speech that she does not want to be merely tolerated by society. She expects her allies and friends to challenge every instance of Transphobia in all its guises to help every transgender and intersex individual achieve the acceptance and respect they deserve. She ended by saying Brexit is the most serious threat in terms of our Human Rights and it is up to us to put collective pressure on all our politicians, North and South and in Europe to stop this runaway train of Brexit.
Ping Cao, a Chinese Migrant and Lecturer/Researcher at Dundalk Institute of Technology believes Brexit will worsen discrimination in the border and being shouted “Go home to your country!” has scarred her for life, and how that particular comment can affect migrant children who are here to stay and have no other place to go.
Having worked as an illegal worker in the United States himself, Brendan Smith TD for Monaghan and Cavan highlighted that Brexit is not just about the economy or trade, but it is about people and how it could impact on people’s daily lives. He also said that there is endless dialogue and discourse with politicians on different groups on their concerns on Brexit and that he would be very glad to bring to whatever forum he can the issues that have been raised.
Among the performers from different countries who graced the event were Rodelle Borja, 2019 Ireland’s Got Talent Filipino Semi-Finalist who sang the Philippine National Anthem, Polish Student Malwina Łukaszewicz who sang the Irish National Anthem, Latvian Dancers of the Cavan Community who will represent Ireland at the Latvian Festival in Toronto, Canada in July performed two dances, and Indian boys Cris Nidhin danced to a song from the famous Indian movie “Lakshmi” and Neeraj Shanmugha whistled to pop-song Shotgun.
Philippine Consul to Ireland Raymond Garrett also announced that Filipino Association Cavan Founder and Facilitator of the forum Vanda Brady is now the appointed Director for Marketing and Communications of the Philippine Consulate Dublin, an honorary and volunteer body under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in London.