Belfast Telegraph

Polish festival aims to beat racism

Poles have vowed to fight prejudice through theatre as part of a cultural festival celebrating 10 years in Northern Ireland.

A play examining Poland's role during the Second World War will be among events marking a decade since the country's EU accession.

The 30,000 strong Polish community in Northern Ireland has recently been shaken by reports of racism targeted against ethnic minorities.

Kasia Garbal, chair of the Polish Educational and Cultural Association, said: "In light of the recent spate of racist incidents targeting the Polish community, the festival aims to break down barriers and fight prejudice through arts and culture.

"We are hoping that this year's festival will promote understanding and awareness of Polish culture across all the communities in Northern Ireland."

Earlier this year, seven homes of Polish people were attacked in ten days, East Belfast MP Naomi Long said.

This year's Polish Cultural Week features cinema, art and photographic exhibitions and Polish men's team Polonia Volleyball Club Eagles will play Ballymoney Blaze.

Tomorrow, a theatre in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter will show Chris Dobrowolski's All Roads Lead to Rome. It is in part an investigation into his father's time as a Polish soldier in the Second World War Italian campaign and partly a reflection on consumerism.

Poland became an EU member in May 2004, five years after joining Nato and 15 years after the end of communist rule. Many Poles took advantage of free movement entitlements to come to the UK and Ireland to earn relatively higher salaries.

Jerome Mullen, honorary consul of the Republic of Poland in Northern Ireland, said: "As the Polish community becomes an established part of society in Northern Ireland, it is important to celebrate their economic and cultural contribution during the forthcoming Polish Cultural Week.

"The wide range of exhibitions, workshops and film screenings gives everybody an opportunity to share in Poland's rich cultural heritage."

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