Celebration of Ireland’s Igbo community held in Dublin

Varadkar says it is important to remember diaspora of other nations who have made Ireland home

In the photo attached, from left to: Kelechi JK Onwumereh - Leader Igbo Union Dublin, IJ Okafor - A Businessman and Industrialist, Senator Ben Obi - Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter Party Affairs

In the photo attached, from left to: Kelechi JK Onwumereh - Leader Igbo Union Dublin, IJ Okafor - A Businessman and Industrialist, Senator Ben Obi - Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter Party Affairs

Tue, Sep 24, 2013, 14:50

The quality of life was fast improving in Nigeria, senator Ben Obi, a senior political figure in the west African country, has told members of the Igbo people who have settled in Ireland.

“Things are fast improving in our country; the transformation agenda has impacted to the benefit of the people,” said Senator Obi who is special adviser on inter-party matters to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan. The senator was speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Igbo National Convention in Ireland which opened today at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown.

According to one of the organisers, John Kingsley Onwumereh from Clonee in Co Dublin, there are some 6,000 people of Igbo ethnic origin resident in Ireland. The Igbo come from south eastern Nigeria and were known formerly as Ibo. The Igbos, who are Christian, are among Nigeria’s most influential groups in politics and business.

The convention aims to celebrate Igbo culture and to bring together members of the community, many of whom have been settled in Ireland for over five years and have taken Irish citizenship. Today’s opening ceremony was an opportunity to focus on enterprise and start-up business run by members of the community.

Minister for Transport and local TD Leo Varadkar opened the convention, saying that in the year of the Gathering it was important to remember the diaspora of other nations for whom Ireland was now home. Nigerian ambassador Felix Pwol thanked the Irish people for the “wonderful reception” that has been given to people from his country now living here.

Businesses on show included Heritage Foods of Lucan, Meddy’s Law Tutors of Drogheda, Baffles Enterprises of Mulhuddard, Co-Operative Support Services Ltd of Dorset Street in Dublin; and a charity, Manorfield Foundation, run by a National Children’s Hospital radiographer, Dr Anthony Onwuka, that seeks to improve the health of rural people in Nigeria. Fingal Council enterprise board, the New Communities Partnership and the Immigrant Council of Ireland were also represented.

The convention continues tomorrow (Saturday) with a cultural day in the National Show Centre in Cloghran near Swords at 4pm, featuring Iwaji (New Yam Festival), Oji Igbo, dances, masquerade, and drama, with music by Reggae Messiah, Saro Wiwa, Debsandy and Big J. On Sunday there is an interdenominational church service and women’s conference in the Mulhuddart Community Centre at 3pm.

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