SINN FÉIN WILL field their first-ever African candidate in next year’s local elections.
Edmond Lukusa is a Congolese native who has been an Irish citizen since 2007 and will join local representative Paul Donnelly on the ballot in the Mulhuddart ward in next year’s election.
Lukusa joined Sinn Féin shortly after he became an Irish citizen, having been a member of the opposition Union for Democracy & Social Progress in his native land.
Although Sinn Féin is known primarily for their republican stance, Lukusa says that was not a difficult ideology to identify with, but that was not the key driving force behind his decision.
I made the decision to join Sinn Féin six years ago believing, as I still do, that they are the only party out there standing up for ordinary citizens.
Sinn Féin’s reputation preceded them in Lukusa’s case, as he had already heard of the party before landing in Ireland in 2001. He says that his experience from back home will help him.
“I have experience in a number of diverse projects and community organisations and I have developed skills and knowledge in politics whilst I was member of the UDPS political party in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Although he is the first Sinn Féin candidate from Africa, Lukusa steps into the race one of the more diverse wards in the country – both in terms of residents and politicians.
In the 2009 local election, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael fielded candidates who were African-born: Idowu Olfimihan and Adeola Ogunsina, respectively. There was also an Independent, Iggy Okafor, who was born in Nigeria.
Séamus Hazlett of Sinn Féin says that while the polling data undoubtedly played a part in the decision, Lukusa was picked for the ballot because of his work on the ground and his knowledge of the area.
He says that the party is confident of taking two seats in the eight-seat ward next year.
Running-mate Paul Donnelly said that Lukusa’s nomination was testament to the diversity of the area.
“Edmond’s selection is reflective of how diverse this constituency is. I am looking forward to hitting the doors with him and I am pretty confident we can win two seats.”
Lukusa, meanwhile, is quick to rebuff any notions of tokenism.
I am running in this election to win. It’s game on.