'We've always felt Irish — now it's official': Hundreds conferred with Irish citizenship

'We've always felt Irish — now it's official': Hundreds conferred with Irish citizenship

Rafael Pineda Vega and Zuzana Stasnikova from Mexico proudly displaying the Irish flag after becoming Irish Citizens at The Citizenship Ceremony in the INEC, Killarney on Tuesday. Pictures: Don MacMonagle

Almost 1,000 people were welcomed into the State as equal citizens in the second of two days of citizenship ceremonies at Killarney's INEC on Tuesday.

Close to 3,300 people from 130 countries became Irish citizens over two days of ceremonies in Killarney.

It was a joyous occasion, with spontaneous rounds of applause.

Retired District Court Judge Denis McMahon, presiding over the declaration of fidelity on Tuesday, urged the audience to “Carpe Diem”, to grasp the day and the opportunities of becoming an Irish citizen.

“Almost one-fifth of the current Irish population was born outside the island of Ireland,” she said.

Citizenship meant always having a home in Ireland, being able to vote, and also enjoying free movement within the European Union, she said.

“Keep being uniquely you. We want you to bring your traditions of your homeland with you. By sharing them with us, Ireland will become richer for that,” she said.

Minister of State Anne Rabbitte said Ireland, in its one hundred years "had experienced emigration for reasons beyond its control." 

"More recently people had arrived from all over the world to Ireland as a safe haven, as a place to live in an inclusive and progressive society and for the opportunity to put down roots in safety.

“Almost one fifth of the current Irish population was born outside the island of Ireland,” she said.

Ms Rabbitte said citizenship meant always having a home in Ireland, being able to vote and also enjoying free movement within the European Union.

“Keep being uniquely you. 

We want you to bring your traditions of your homeland with you. By sharing them with us, Ireland will become richer for that.

Dupe Omotade 

For Nigerian Dupe Omotade who has been living in Dublin for ten years and who works as a carer, becoming an Irish citizen is “a blessing”.

Her son, aged eight, is already an Irish citizen.

“Now I am too,” Ms Omotade said.

Julie Chesian 

Nurse Julie Chesian from Kerala in Southern India has been in Ireland for eight years. Living in Co Galway, she is nursing at GUH.

“This is a big day. I have been waiting a long long time.” 

The processing went much more quickly than she anticipated and she applied only in April.

Isabella Ryan and her twin sister Saskia 

Twin sisters Isabella Ryan and Saskia from Co Wicklow were both born in Sydney, Australia. Now aged 25, they have lived in Ireland since they were eight. They have grown up in Ireland and always felt Irish.

It was great to get into the spirit of the day and dress in green, said Isabella, who works in fashion. She has just completed a masters in business from TUD, Ireland’s first Technological University.

Saskia is a graduate of French and Tourism from the same university.

“We always felt more Irish than Australian. Now it’s official,” Saskia said.

Mohamed Aede 

Members of a Syrian family in Killarney with a decade are all now Irish citizens with brother Mohamed Aede, 25, conferred with citizenship on Tuesday.

“Oh, my God. I am very very happy,” his mother Wafaa Aljafari said.

 Wafaa Aljafar, Naur Aede and Nataly Aede from Syria with Minister of State Anne Rabbitte .
 Wafaa Aljafar, Naur Aede and Nataly Aede from Syria with Minister of State Anne Rabbitte .

Mohamed’s sister Nataly, who is studying biochemistry in MTU Tralee, was conferred with citizenship previously. However, the family have appealed directly to Minister Anne Rabbitte for Nataly’s older sister Nivin and her three boys who have remained in Damascus to be able to come to Ireland also.

They have not seen them in ten years as the family cannot go back to Syria. Family reunification is confined to spouses and children under 18, they have been told previously.

Marcus Gunther

From Magdeburg, a city in East Germany originally, Marcus Gunther thought he might spend a year in Ireland. That was in 1993, a few years after the fall of the Berlin wall.

He had seen a picture of the Rock of Cashel in a magazine.

His first job was working in a bog in Iveragh saving turf and helping with cows. And a year became almost 30.

“Like so many other people, I couldn’t escape South Kerry,” he said. He has also become involved in campaigning to secure the future of St Mary of the Angels where his wife Ina’s son Bernard lives.

He was accompanied by his wife Ina nee O’Dwyer, who is from south Kerry.

“I’m here with my beautiful wife and proud Kerrywoman, Ina. Of course, she had me converted a long time ago. But now I'm officially one of ye and if anyone asks “Are you from Kerry?”, my answer will be “I am” and I have the passport to prove it,” he said.

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