Local authority co-option selection process should take account of Ireland’s ethnic diversity
With 34 councillor seat vacancies arising following the successful election to the Dáil of many local councillors, the Immigrant Council of Ireland is urging all political parties and successful independent candidates to ensure the co-option selection process takes into consideration Ireland’s increasing ethnic diversity.
Brian Killoran, CEO, Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “The co-option process gives political parties and successful independent candidates the opportunity to reflect on what it means to truly represent their local communities. While one in eight of us in Irish society are from a migrant background, just nine out of a total 949 local councillors from a migrant background.
“Therefore we have written to all political parties urging them to consider suitable candidates from ethnic and religious minorities as they prepare to co-opt councillors into the various local authorities in the 34 seats made vacant due to the successful election to Dáil Éireann of a number of local councillors.
“We believe this would send a clear and positive signal that our political system recognises we are still far short of fair and equal representation for ethnic minorities and would demonstrate there is eagerness for action in support of manifesto pledges in the area of integration.”
Mr Killoran added, “This is not just a ‘nice to have’. Ensuring fair representation is essential to ensure to build a stronger, more integrated society. It also sends a powerful message to people from all backgrounds that Ireland is their home, they belong and are wanted here.
“And it is not just altruistic. Since the citizenship ceremonies were launched in 2011 more than 130,000 new Irish citizens have been welcomed. Every one of them has a vote which our political parties are seeking to secure.
“Based on our outreach work with ethnic minorities on political participation, we know migrants are eager to engage in the democratic process in Ireland. Seeing a positive action coming from the political parties would be a welcome and encouraging signal for them to join political structures in Ireland.”
The Immigrant Council of Ireland undertakes a programme of work promoting migrant political participation, including:
- Regular outreach workshops on electoral rights with people from a migrant background.
- Partnership work with other migrant groups, organising and presenting at large ‘Migrant Mobilisation Events’.
- Migrant-Councillor Internships. Five migrants interned with Councillors in 2018, report was launched in February 2019.
- #GoVote video campaign. 10 professionally produced multi-lingual videos informing and encouraging migrants re voter registration, voting and running for election were launched in November and relaunched in April 2019 ahead of electoral register deadline.
- Focused workshops for prospective migrant local election candidates.
- Non-partisan one-to-one support and advice for prospective migrant local election candidates.
Pippa Woolnough, Communications and Advocacy Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 085 864 0682