Belfast Telegraph

State papers: Fears over resettling Vietnam's refugees

By Adrian Rutherford

Attempts to resettle refugees from the Vietnam War in Northern Ireland ran into trouble after tension from locals who were concerned they might take their jobs.

Vietnamese immigration to Britain started after the end of the war in 1975. By 1979 discussions were under way to resettle refugees in Northern Ireland.

However, a briefing paper warned the lack of local jobs was a "cause for concern", adding that the Vietnamese nationals may cause tension.

"Their arrival would attract a good deal of publicity and it would not help Northern Ireland's image if they subsequently decided to leave the province," a note added.

During 1980, 25 Vietnamese families were resettled in the Lisburn, Ballymena, Newry and Craigavon areas.

Initially, in 1981, a survey on the experiences of the refugees reported several serious issues.

But by 1984, Secretary of State Jim Prior was able to report that Vietnamese refugees were integrating into society.

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