Letter: Islington is ethnically diverse with a few good footballers

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The Independent Online
THE Independent on Sunday has managed to provoke quite a press blather about what it means to be an Islington Person (17 July). If a non-journalist can be allowed to intrude, I would say that Islington is rather different from the picture that has been painted.

As a metaphor for luvvies and chatterers, the term Islington Person has a fundamental flaw - Islington just isn't like that. It is the rich diversity of the borough and the sheer impossibility of stereotyping its inhabitants that is Islington's hallmark.

We have had our fair share of the upwardly mobile but that is only part of it. Islington is also a borough of considerable poverty: 26 per cent of the borough's adult population is registered unemployed; the council, with 11,000 employees, is far and away the largest single employer; 60 per cent of the people of Islington live in council housing. Indeed, we have some of the best public housing in the country with some of the cheapest rents.

Islington is a vibrant, ethnically-mixed borough. The Irish community, like the poor, have always been with us and during the early stages of the World Cup, tricolours festooned every hostelry in the north of the borough, and very many houses, too. The Italian community in Clerkenwell, in the south of the borough, dates from the days of Garibaldi a century ago and almost every decade since then has brought a new people to enrich the life of the borough. Vietnamese and Somalis are some of the most recent communities to settle here, looking for a place that offers acceptance, opportunity and a good quality of life.

The borough's proximity to Fleet Street means that traditionally many writers and illustrators have lived here. But these days, Islington is better known for its football team - European cup winners, Arsenal. Arsenal shirts - usually printed 'Wright 8' on the back - outnumber Armani suits on Islington streets by about 100-1.

Islington celebrates diversity. The chatterers are here all right, but if they look up from their dinner tables and through their windows they will see much more besides.

Alan Clinton

Leader of Islington Council

London N1

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