Call for parties to be more proactive in encouraging migrants into politics

Call for parties to be more proactive in encouraging migrants into politics

There is a call on political parties to do more to encourage migrants into politics.

A new scheme has led to an increased number of migrants putting themselves forward for election.

The Councillor-Migrant Internship Scheme saw migrants pair up with councillors for four months to learn about politics.

Three out of five interns have now decided to run in the upcoming local elections.

Just 31 people from a migrant background stood for election in 2014 among more than 2,000 candidates.

Only three out of 949 sitting councillors across the country are from this background.

Immigrant Council of Ireland spokesperson Joe O'Brien outlined how the scheme works:

"We matched up migrants who have been living in Ireland for some time now with local county councillors in five different local authorities around the country," he said.

"Thye worked with them over the course of the councillor's duties over a four-month period all with a view to learning what it's like to be a local representative."

Mr O'Brien says political parties need to create more opportunities for people who have come to Ireland as migrants.

"There's a bit of work to be done and I think, in particular, the big political parties need to open their eyes to the diversity of the communities they represent [and] open their eyes to the talent that is there among migrant communities," he said.

"[They need to] make an effort, go outside their comfort zones in terms of who they're looking for as local candidates and pick diversity."

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