Godfrey Chimbganda, founder of the Youth Platform Project Ireland, has written to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone. We share its contents below.

Minister Zappone I am the founder of a youth-led ethnic minority umbrella organisation known as the Youth Platform Project Ireland.

‘We aim to engage and empower ethnic minority youth in Ireland.’

The above distinguishes us from all the other organisations as a young ethnic minority focused organisation led and comprising 16 plus youth groups representing a demographic of more than 250k between the ages of 18 and 35. These include International students, youth not born on Ireland and youth born in Ireland who are not traditionally Irish.

We have worked with the National Youth Council of Ireland since inception on issues that affect us and the Department of Youth and Child affairs has supported us with Engage conference and hopefully they will in the near future.

My concerns touch on most of the topics that are on discussion in local, national and European political platforms including strengthening families, social justice, equality and strengthening communities but with a focus on migrant youths. There are over 800k people not born in Ireland living in Ireland. Over 400k people are young ethnic minorities. There is a national youth strategy at the moment that does not consider ethnic minorities who are not from the Roma and Traveller communities.

There are issues of Identity, racism, integration and intercultural learning that have been neglected for that demographic. The current integration strategy does not consider or address the needs of young people of non Irish ethnic origins. At present, there are no services being developed or funded to deal with the specialist needs of ethnic youth who get racially abused or discriminated or those with mental health difficulties. International Students continue to be mistreated by Landlords, pay fees above Europeans average, And continue to be the subject of unfair practices by both universities and current Labour legislation.

However, our government funds LGBT youth initiatives because there is a recognition of the specialist needs of this group. With currently over 400 Syrian refugees living in rural Ireland and a pledge for more to come, it must be noted that most of them are in youth bracket. These young people will require the services already mentioned and in addition will require viable employment. I would recommend Government sponsorship of programmes to address social, educational, and cultural needs of these young people and not to leave it to Volunteers and well wishers to do so with little or no funding.

The current published recommendations for the right to work for asylum seekers only targets 10% of them which violates the current EU Directive for asylum seekers. My challenge for our organisation is getting your support in creating an equal society and be to be the first minister in history to develop and implement an intercutural youth strategy that can deal with the above issues. Minister you recently mentioned you are inspired by John F Kennedy a very unpopular politician due to his support of civil rights amongst those who have a need to not see people of ethnicity equal in any capacity.

I ask that you value this demographic that has been at the bottom of the list for a very long time.