The launch this week of a three-year Limerick integration plan should be widely welcomed.
Back in the days of the Celtic Tiger, when Limerick saw a significant influx of new arrivals from dozens of different countries, the Leader responded by producing a weekly page called Ethnic Limerick. It was recognition that things had changed. The area that this newspaper has reported on since 1889 was becoming a multicultural society and the new page embraced that.
Ethnic correspondents newly resident in Limerick contributed each week, sometimes in different languages. We remain proud of that innovation, not least because it was a first for local newspaper journalism in this country. We hope that it said to the newcomers, ‘We’re happy that you are here. This paper want to highlight your news and views, too.’
There was more to it than that, of course. The initiative was also an invitation to foreign nationals who wished to become properly integrated in Limerick. True integration means taking an active interest in the wider issues that affect the city and county and naturally the Leader’s job is to report on those issues as they arise.
We no longer publish that Ethnic Limerick page. It served a valuable purpose once, but we took the view that proper integration for our new arrivals meant their involvement in local life should be covered no differently to the comings and goings of people born and reared in Athea or Annacotty, Kilmallock or Corbally. That is a work in progress, like integration itself. But real progress is being made. We hope to see some foreign names on the ballot paper when the local elections come around next year. If there are, we hope those candidates will be judged only on their abilities and their potential to make a difference to Limerick communities.