The lives of an ethnic minority community in Upper Bann has been thrown into disarray following the EU Referendum result which saw the UK vote to leave the European Union.
Sinn Féin MLAs John O’Dowd and Catherine Seeley, have used an Assembly debate on the implications of BREXIT, to reassure members of ethnic minority communities in Upper Bann and across the north.
“On Friday I met with representatives from NICEM who represent the ethnic minority community of Upper Bann – their lives have been thrown into disarray – families unsure as to where their children will go to school in September, if they will have a job in a months’ time,” said Ms Seeley.
“Families who will endure countless sleepless nights and who need leaders to lead and to reassure.”
Ms Seeley raised the arrival soon of Syrian refugees to the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area.
She said: “In the coming days and weeks Upper Bann will welcome Syrian refugee families into their communities. I implore my constituents to extend a warm welcome. Sadly this whole debate has given rise to the type of poisonous politics that we should never have witnessed. The first sign of contagion evident with questions of citizenship posed by a FF TD in the South.
Mr O’Dowd raised the crucial role EU citizens and ethnic minority citizens play in our economy.
“I want to turn to our brothers and sisters from European states and those from other ethnic minorities who already live here,” said Mr O’Dowd.
“I would hope to send out a very unified message from the Assembly that their contribution to our economy is welcomed. Their continued contribution to our economy is absolutely necessary, and we, as an Assembly, an Executive and political leaders, defend their right to be here and welcome them here with open arms.”
He continued: “Now more than ever we must rally around those within our community who have been left to feel victimised, isolated and unwelcome by an at times vitriolic and poisonous campaign over the last two months.”
Meanwhile, First Minister, Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness reassured the migrant community living here they are welcome and valued.
The Ministers said: “We are very concerned at reports of racially motivated attacks in England following the Referendum.
“Regardless of your views on EU and the outcome of the recent referendum, there is absolutely no place for intimidation or threats.
“Everyone regardless of racial, ethnic or religious background are entitled to live their lives free from fear.
“Migrants make a valuable contribution to our society, they enrich our lives and will continue to make a considerable contribution to our society in the future.”