‘People here are friendly, but you still hear racist comments’

Helen Chung

Helen Chung speaks to Ryan Smith about life in Fermanagh

“PEOPLE have been friendly – but I have heard of some racists comments towards other Chinese people here.”

That was the view of 21-year-old Chinese national Helen Chung, in a week that has seen the issue of racism hit the headlines across the North.


Ms Chung, who manages Eastern Chinese Takeaway in Enniskillen, has lived here for two years since her family moved from Hong Kong to set up the business.

“It’s grand, I like it,” Ms Chung explained.

“I think the Chinese community is fairly big – Enniskillen is not exactly a huge town so I think it’s relatively big.”

“I had some trouble getting a hang of the accent but apart from that everything else has been OK.”

Ms Chung likes living in Fermanagh, though noted that some within the Chinese community have had issues here.

“People have been friendly – but I have heard of some racists comments towards other Chinese people here. They’ve experienced it.

“It would be things like teenagers who would come in and make really rude comments.


“I haven’t come across it myself, but obviously I think it’s a bad thing. I sometimes think what can you do about it if it happens – maybe if there were some help lines it would make things better.

“I think it’s ignorance. These things happen everywhere, it’s just not in Fermanagh.”

And, Anita Mukherjee, originally from India, who works with a range of nationalities in Fermanagh has urged people to exercise tolerance and see people as individuals rather than coming from one or other ethnic group.

Ms Mukherjee, who moved to Fermanagh from India 14 years ago, and is a founding member of ‘Women of the World’.

Ms Mukherjee, has been working the community for over 10 years, and while she has been aware of racism in the area, said that ‘by enlarge Fermanagh is quite welcoming’.

“We work in the community, our work is to integrate those from different communities – people who have moved and are working an living in Fermanagh.

“I don’t think today anywhere in the world you can have a homogenous community.

“Name one country that is only person, one community, one religion: It is not there.”

Within the organisation, Ms Mukherjee, said that there are representatives from Indian, Polish, Lithuanian, and Filipino communities.

“This is a modern age where we want everyone to be treated fairly. The respect we show to others, it always comes back to us.

“It’s time we looked at people as individuals.”

Ms Mukherjee did point out, however, that she has been aware of a number of incidents of racism during her time here. She is keen to move away from that.

“It’s not that everything is good. There are people who will make a very bad comment on you just because your colour is different or you come from a different community or religion.

“But I suppose if you give them time they realise that person is just like you and me.”

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