OPINION: Welcome to Sheffield

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It’s very easy to get caught up in arguments about immigration, or asylum, or refugees.

Simply raising the topic in a debate immediately puts each side on the defensive.

One wishing to extol the virtues of people with differing cultures coming together for the common good and the other tip-toeing around the topic and not wishing to offend while stating the case that left uncontrolled it can cause more problems than it solves.

There’s a third side, of course, which is less thoughtful and doesn’t care about the damage it does to communities when such views are aired.

Yesterday Sheffield City Council became the first local authority in the UK to recognise Somaliland as a sovereign state after a motion tabled by Labour Coun Mohammad Maroof was passed by the full council.

Some may say that the council should be debating matters closer to home.

But that would be to misunderstand how the motion came to be.

More than 2,000 signatures had been collected on a petition of support from Sheffield’s Somaliland community.

That is quite a sum of people. It demonstrates the strength of feeling that this is a topic important to a great many people who call this city home.

After World War Two many Somalilanders settled in Sheffield and have contributed greatly to the city.

The same could be true if Syrian refugees begin to arrive in Sheffield as they flee the civil war in their country.

Sheffield MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and council leader Julie Dore have been at loggerheads over the terms of whether any refugees will be accepted into Sheffield.

Our ‘City of Sanctuary’ standing is something we can all be proud of and shows, in true Sheffield style, we just get on with life and encourage newcomers to do the same.

The Star is confident that the city will do its bit to help some of the most vulnerable refugees.

Coun Dore and Mr Clegg have clashed for the best of intentions but helping others is in the DNA of Sheffield whether it is Somaliland or Syria.