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A dinner and information session was held at the Park Plaza Hotel in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland under the auspices of the Association of Ghanaian Professionals in Ireland (AGPI) for the Ghanaian community on the 15th March 2008. The occasion was also used to commemorate Ghana’s 51st independence from the Great Britain. The event attracted over 120 adults from all over Ireland. There were also in excess of 20 non-Ghanaians from Ireland, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Tanzania, Cameroun, Britain, Nigeria and USA to give the occasion an international flavour.
The occasion was celebrated under the theme ‘Overcoming barriers to integration and achieving full potentials of Ghanaians resident in Ireland’. The keynote address was delivered by the Minister and Head of Chancery of Ghana Mission in the UK, Mr. Morgan Brown on behalf of the Ghana High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland. Other dignitaries at the function included Irish politicians, namely, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Mrs. Joan Burton and the Leader of the Socialist Party, Mr. Joe Higgins.
In her acceptance speech, Mrs. Owusu-Ansah, the Chairperson of the event, underscored the relevance of the theme given the on-going debate in the Irish Parliament of the Immigration, Residency and Protection Bill 2008. Delivering his keynote speech, the Head of Chancery of Ghana Mission in the UK, Mr. Morgan Brown, outlined the events leading up to the independence of Ghana from the Great Britain and the chequered history that followed. He concluded his address on an optimistic note by emphasising the sound macro economic environment prevailing in Ghana and called on Ghanaians resident in Ireland to rally solidly and in unity behind the AGPI to “transform the brain drain into brain gain”.
In her welcome address, Mrs. Belinda Agyapong, outlined the vision and goals of AGPI stressing on the association’s determination to become the first ever immigrant group to achieve full employment amongst its national within the shortest possible time. She disclosed that AGPI which started with a membership of only four in early 2007, has currently membership in excess of hundred professionals with expertise ranging from Medicine, Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Management, Information and Communication Technology, Accounting, Engineering, Financial Management, Social Work, Statistics, Education, Transport, to University Administration. She divulged that AGPI recognises the diversity of human potential and it is “our goal to mobilise human, material and financial resources towards the advancement of Ghana”. She maintained that ‘this will be carried out by working with and helping to strengthen all other Ghanaian sectional groupings in Ireland’. She concluded that AGPI will help all Ghanaian nationals resident in Ireland regardless of religious, ethnic and political persuasions to live the Irish dream just as over 50 million people of Irish descent in America are living the American dream.
In a solidarity message, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Joan Burton, drew a parallel between Ireland and Ghana in terms of colonial heritage, specifying that whereas Ireland was the first European country to gain independence from Britain in 1922, Ghana happened to be the first country south of Sahara to gain independence from the Britain, 51 years ago. She commended the formation of the AGPI and indicated that it was the best thing ever happened in Ireland from the immigrant community. She pleaded with all Ghanaians and other immigrants in Ireland to unite behind the leadership of AGPI as their ‘vision remains the best approach to integration in Ireland’. She concluded that with the oil discovery in Ghana, Ghanaians should remember their Irish friends in times of need.
In his speech, the leader of the Socialist Party expressed his fullness of delight at the discovery of oil in Ghana but cautioned that the proceeds should go towards the improvement of the lives of the ordinary Ghanaians rather than the multinational corporation, corrupt politicians and public officials. He also welcomed the formation of the AGPI and encouraged Ghanaians to unite behind the organisation as AGPI was formed by Ghanaians for the maximuml potential development of Ghanaians. He concluded by advising the leadership of AGPI to liaise with the appropriate bodies and authorities with issues of concern to the Ghanaian citizenry resident in Ireland. Two founding members Dr. Wilberforce Owusu-Ansah and Ms Lynda Twum-Ackah, on behalf of the AGPI, presented gifts to the invited guests.
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