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09 May 2011
The social and cultural tapestry of Armagh city has changed significantly in recent years with the arrival of a large number of people from different countries who have come to live and work in the area. The city and surrounding district now play host to individuals and families who bring with them a diverse range of languages, cultures and traditions to create an exciting multicultural atmosphere and ambience.
 
Multiculturalism also creates challenges for an area like Armagh in terms of easing access to services for new residents, overcoming language barriers and in some instances combating fear, ignorance and suspicion which can accompany change in parts of a host community. CAIRDE Teo, an Irish language and cultural organisation in Armagh City has teamed up with Northern New View, a conflict resolution group also based in Armagh, to organise a week of activities aimed at encouraging inter-cultural engagement and at breaking down barriers to social and economic inclusion.
 
With funding from the Peace III Southern Partnership and Foras na Gaeilge, ‘Migrant Action and Advice Week’  will give people in Armagh an opportunity to integrate with others from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds who have come to settle in the area. The week of activities will be based in Armagh’s only Lithuanian owned bar and restaurant – The Northern Bar / Restorane Siaure – and will include a book and DVD launch, an international food tasting event, an information and discussion evening and an international music night.
  
Everyone from the local community is invited to participate in all the events which are free of charge. Professor Paul Stewart from the University of Strathclyde and Dr Brian Garvey from the Consensus project will kick start the event at 7pm on Thursday 12th May upstairs in the Northern Bar with the launch of a DVD and booklet entitled ‘The New Workers – Migration, Labour and Citizenship in N.Ireland the 21st Century’. The book and DVD are based on interviews with people from many different nationalities including Polish and Lithuanian workers from the Armagh area. Later that evening, expert speakers will address issues such as employment rights, pensions, housing, mortgages, domestic violence and trade union representation. Polish, Lithuanian and Bulgarian translators will be on hand at both these events.
  
On Saturday 14th May, a celebration of multiculturalism will take place upstairs at the Northern Bar. As well as Lithuanian, Polish and Bulgarian food, guests will be able to enjoy traditional Irish, Polish, Bulgarian and Lithuanian music and dancing. The highlight of the evening will undoubtedly be the appearance of legendary Irish language rap artist Bubba Shakespeare who promises to give the audience a night to remember. Once again, admission is free of charge and translators will be available throughout the proceedings.
  
So come along to Armagh’s International Week and enjoy the best of local and international culture and music, or find about more about issues of integration and social inclusion. For more information, contact Gearóid at 028 37515229 or e.mail gearoid@cairdeteo.com or sean@cairdeteo.com .