Junior Minister's Speech- Launch Of Barnardo's NI/National Children's Bureau NI- Diversity in Action Northern Ireland 4th October 2010

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I too wish to add my thanks for your kind  invitation to be here today at the launch of the “New to Northern Ireland” report and the insight into the DIANI project.

Everyone here today is of one mind – to improve the lives of children and young people from ethnically diverse groups who have come here to start a new life.

Northern Ireland has become a modern cosmopolitan to live and the reasons people come here are as diverse as the nationalities that arrive. And for some the arrival on these shores was for the purpose of seeking asylum.

The abrupt departure from family, friends and familiar surroundings is bound to be a traumatic experience for children and young people.

It is therefore up to us to welcome and embrace diversity here and recognise the economic benefits, skills, new ideas, and fresh perspectives that these communities bring. We must ensure everyone is treated with due dignity and respect and be ready to give whatever assistance is needed to ease the transition to their new lives.

I too applaud the work of Barnardo’s and the National Children’s Bureau on this joint project which is a fine example of how a coordinated and focused approach can improve lives and help build a more integrated and cohesive society.

The support that the (Diversity in Action Northern Ireland, DIANI) programme will provide will impact greatly on the lives of children and young people from minority ethnic groups living here.

We are a society in transition – we are all of us learning – we can learn from past mistakes and look to better futures.

OFMDFM is currently conducting a public consultation exercise on its draft Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration.

One of the key message in the strategy document is that of sharing and inclusion.

Our work on child poverty and social exclusion aims to tackle barriers, provide skills and experience, and allow all young people to participate fully in society.

I would urge you all to get involved and make your opinion heard and shared.

I also look forward with interest and excitement at what today’s launch will bring to new generation who call this land “home”.

Thank you.