Optimism as migrants helped to integrate

Mon, May 14, 2012, 01:00

The census finds some 40 per cent of the population of Tyrrelstown in west Dublin was born outside Ireland, writes Pamela Duncan

The physical education teacher gives the signal and the children scramble for their hurleys and helmets. As a group they are as diverse as a Benetton advertisement: children of Asian, African, Eastern European and Irish descent playing together in the sports hall shared by the Tyrrelstown Educate Together School and the newly opened community centre.

The electoral division which Tyrrelstown falls into is known as “The Ward”, the population of which has grown by almost 60 per cent to 8,241 in the past five years. The proportion of the population of the area born outside Ireland now stands at 40 per cent.

On the other side of the community hall a group of adults file out of their weekly English session. Fáilte Isteach is a nationwide community project with volunteers who help migrants by hosting conversational English sessions.

They are attended by people from China, Pakistan, Lithuania, Poland, Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Spain, Moldova, India, Russia, Bangladesh.

They are here to improve their English and to help assimilate themselves into the culture of their adopted home, although some say they have found this easier than others.

Nazakat Begum, a Pakistani doctor who lives outside Tyrrelstown, says she and other nationalities in her neighbourhood have integrated well with each other, but that integration hasn’t been as easy with the Irish community.

“In my neighbourhood very few Irish people are living there because these areas are mainly for the different nationalities . . . they are mostly integrated with each other . . . but generally in our neighbourhoods when you go to [the secondary] school the Irish mothers are always talking with Irish mothers. They don’t talk to other nationalities,” she says.

However, as Ms Begum speaks, a young Indian mother, Rupa Chakraborty, who has lived in Tyrrelstown for six years, is shaking her head emphatically.

“My children study in Educate Together. The children are so much integrated together, the parents are so much integrated together,” she says.

“I have no problems. The people are very friendly in Ireland.”

One of the Irish volunteers leading the group is Breda Heron who has lived in Tyrrelstown since 2004 having moved there from Artane and is head of social inclusion, a subcommittee of the local residents’ association.

“They only started building here around 2000. My daughter moved here in 2002 and she was one of the first. It’s very new,” she says.

Most of Tyrrelstown, an area which has only sprung up in the past decade, is still new enough to feel like an architect’s model of a modern town.

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