The following letter was signed by several City of Sanctuary Dublin members and supporters and published in The Irish Times on April 20, 2016, where it has made quite a splash.
We support Enda O’Coineen’s call to allocate some Seanad seats to the Irish diaspora communities around the world (“Seanad election plays as a farce in three acts”, Opinion & Analysis, April 15th). But what about the “new Irish” immigrant communities here in Ireland? Should they not also have a voice in the way the country is governed?
There were 544,000 foreign-born people in Ireland out of a total population of around 4.5 million in the 2011 census – more than one in eight people. A significant number of those – it is difficult to find exact figures, but certainly well over 100,000 – are refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented and other vulnerable migrants. Should they not have a representative in our parliament?
A new taoiseach will have the gift of 11 nominees to the Seanad. At a time when the refugee crisis is Europe’s biggest headache, and we in Ireland are offering to take our share of people fleeing war and persecution in the Middle East and Africa, why should one of these nominations not go to an Irish citizen or legal resident who came here as a refugee, asylum seeker or other migrant? It would send out a strong message about this country’s compassionate and humanitarian values, and that we value the voices of these newcomers in our multicultural body politic.
We are members of City of Sanctuary Ireland, which brings together Irish people and migrants into a new network of groups in cities, towns and local communities and whose primary aim is to create a culture of welcome and safety for refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants.
We urge whoever becomes taoiseach in the near future to consider seriously our proposal.
EAMON RYAN TD,
TIAN YU LLOYD,
DAUD ABDILAHI GILINGIL
City of Sanctuary Ireland,