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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 5 April, 2020

'I realised we really needed to get more involved': Migrants on how they're helping change Irish politics

With local and European elections coming up in May 2019, more migrants in Ireland are becoming interested in how their vote can help shape the country.


“THE FACE OF the Irish population is changing,” says Joanna Siewierska (21), who came as a child to live in Ireland 14 years ago. 

She was speaking at an information session on migrant voter registration, organised by City of Sanctuary Dublin. It’s a campaign focused on informing migrants about their right to vote in Irish elections.

“It’s becoming much more diverse,” Siewierska says of Ireland. “And our decision makers are not reflecting that, and that’s not good enough, for them or for us.”

Next year will see the Irish local and European elections in May, and there is an interest in getting migrants who are eligible to vote registered in order to become part of the conversation on the future of Irish society. 

Amman Ali (24), originally from Pakistan and who has been living in Ireland since 2011, is planning on going one step further and put himself forward as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the Dublin southwest inner city area.

“It was a great experience,” he says about becoming a member of Fianna Fáil. “They accepted me, they welcome me.” 

“It was a chance for me to raise the voice of my community, who didn’t have a voice before…to raise migrant issues, the local issues that was affecting my area.”

Tian Lloyd (36), who works at City of Sanctuary Dublin and came to Ireland from China 16 years ago, says many migrants aren’t aware of their rights when they first come to a new country.

With the popularity of social media, she said it made them realise that there were actually a lot of issues among their communities that weren’t being addressed.

“I realised we really needed to get more involved,” she says.

It’s part of not only integrating into Irish communities, but working together with native-born Irish to make the country a better society for all, she says.

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