Updated: Mar 29, 2021
The MME Council were delighted to take part in the Imagine Festival this year, with an event on Race Relations in Northern Ireland, Past Present and Future, which took place on Friday, 26 March.
Joining host Maurice Macartney on the panel were former MLA Anna Lo; Nisha Tandon, OBE, founder and director of ArtsEkta; Dr Drew Mikhael of Queen’s University Belfast; Tunde Adeosun of the African and Caribbean Chamber of Commerce NI; Leo Brown, young entrepreneur and former footballer; and Ola Sobieraj, who coordinates the EU Settlement Scheme Support Project for the Stronger Together Network.
The event began with a screening of a short film featuring interviews with the panellists and other contributors to the forthcoming series on Race Relations in NI – including contributions from Kaja Choma, Denise Wright, Liz Griffith and Mark Donahue.
The discussion on the night was wide ranging and lively, touching on the thriving intercultural scene, epitomised by the hugely successful annual Belfast Mela, through the problem of the exclusion of ‘Others’ from political discourse in Northern Ireland, the Racial Equality Strategy and Race Relations Order, the challenges posed by Brexit, and the sheer talent, ingenuity and energy brought to our whole society by people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Asked to conclude with one essential policy or practical change they would like to see, the participants suggested: get people from different cultures to sit down and co-write the policies designed to address them (Tunde Adeosun); take a stand against the ‘hostile environment’ for refugees and asylum seekers coming from the UK Government (Drew Mikhael); bring in a Bill of Rights and Universal Basic Income (Ola Sobieraj); turn the Mela into a more frequent event, touching all communities (Leo Brown); redouble the effort to implement the Race Equality Strategy and anti-racism policies for all our society (Anna Lo); and from Nisha Tandon, “let's not divide and rule. Let's rule together'.
The MME Council would like to thank the organisers of the wonderful Imagine Festival; Queen’s University Belfast for their support for the project of which this event and series is part; and all the contributors to the series and panel discussion for sharing their wealth of insights.
Follow our social media feeds @mmecouncil to find out more about the series.
A recording of the panel event will be available shortly.
MME Council, 28 March 2021