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Call for measures to include immigrants in politics

Resource type: News

Irish Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]


CAMPAIGN: THE NEXT government must put in place measures to increase the participation of migrants and new communities in political life, immigrant representatives urged.

The Count Us In campaign was opened by the Immigrant Council of Ireland at Leinster House yesterday. It is supported by the integration office of Dublin City Council.

More than 35,000 people were granted Irish citizenship through naturalisation between 1995 and April 2009, the council said. Some 100,000 British citizens resident in the Republic – the largest migrant community – also have the right to vote.

The council called for the appointment of a migrant representative to the Seanad.

Fidèle Mutwarasibo, integration manager with the immigrant council, said migrants were frequently ignored by election candidates and their canvassers.

“Migrants make up 10 per cent of our population, but are not represented in Leinster House at all. We would urge the next government to address this by including a migrant representative in Seanad Éireann as a taoiseach’s appointee.”

Originally from Rwanda, Dr Mutwarasibo has lived here since 1995 and has been an Irish citizen since 2003.

“I’m very politically engaged and I’ve every intention of voting in this election.

“Yet when I encounter canvassers out on the streets, they don’t bother to engage with me because I don’t fit their stereotype of what looks and sounds Irish.”

Dil Wickremasinghe was born to Sri Lankan parents in Italy. She has lived here for 10 years and recently received her passport.

Ms Wickremasinghe, who presents the Global Village programme on Newstalk, says she does not believe the media has captured the diversity of the community during this election campaign.

“I find sometimes it’s very male orientated as well – the same age group, the same background and [the representation] is not as diverse. Ireland is much more than just guys in suits.”

Immigrant Council of Ireland is an Atlantic grantee.

View Original Source.

For more information:

Count us in for election, new citizens say, Irish Times, 18 FEB 2011

New Government Should Include Migrant Representative in Seanad: ICI, Immigrant Council of Ireland, 17 FEB 2011

TV3 News at 5.30pm: with Dianne Connor, 17 FEB 2011

Call for election focus on immigrants, Irish Times, 17 FEB 2011