Migrants Forum Director Tells American Audience Of Need For Investment.
Director of Programmes at the North West Migrants Forum Lilian Seenoi Barr with American Congressman Richard Neal. Ms Barr visited Washington as part of events to mark 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
THE North West Migrants Forum’s Director of Programmes has told an American audience that the best way to strengthen the peace process is through investment.
Lilian Seenoi Barr was invited recently to participate in the Washington Summit, held to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Ms Barr was asked on to the ‘New Beginnings – What’s Next for Northern Ireland?’ panel, a platform she used to voice the concerns of people in the north west.
“I felt it was important to point out that for many people the Good Friday Agreement has not delivered the kind of prosperity promised and remind them that John Hume always said that the best support for peace was a good job.”
As the first black elected councillor in Northern Ireland Ms Barr represented an openness to inclusion that resonated with US companies whose workforces include many people of colour.
“I was able to tell people that I was one of the many John Hume spoke about when he said that difference is the essence of humanity and that out of many we are one.”
During her visit to the American capital, the Migrants Forum Director met with Congressman Richard Neal who has long championed peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland.
“The people Richard represents in Massachusetts also face economic
challenges so he understands our issues,” said Ms Barr. “He assured me that he will work closely with Joseph Kennedy, another long-time friend, to encourage investment in Northern Ireland. But businesses need the clarity and stability that comes with having a functioning government.
“Without Stormont most of our governing is done on a local level which makes this upcoming election more important than ever. We need a well- functioning council and this can only happen with a multi-party system where two extremes are not dominating council business. Voters on May 18 should be voting for a forward looking and stable local government.”
Ms Barr also had a chance to exchange a few words with President Bill Clinton when he visited Derry recently.
“I was delighted to be able to bring some of the young people who work with the North West Migrants Forum to the event. Afterwards former president Clinton told me how moved he was by the energy and hope expressed by the young people who participated in the programme. I agreed and told him they are what motivates me.”
Lilian Seenoi Barr with former US president Bill Clinton during his recent visit to Derry. Pictured centre is Sperrin SDLP candidate Tommy Forbes.
This article was written by American Irish author and filmmaker Mary Pat Kelly.