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A Seanad seat for immigrants would be a statement of inclusivity

Dear Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny,

We would like to extend our congratulations on your re-election as Taoiseach and wish you and your Government every success in the demanding work ahead.

We would like to also bring your attention to the lack of political representation of migrants in Irish politics. In the last decade, there has been a rapid change in the structure of Irish society. Modern Ireland is a diverse republic with a significant presence of migrants. According to the last census, there are over 544,000 people living in the State who come from different countries. This makes up 12 per cent of the total population. At the same time, migrants are invisible in many aspects of life, including politics and civic structures within society.

To address the lack of political representation of migrants, we are urging you to consider the appointment of representatives of new communities to Seanad Éireann, which is in its concept a chamber of advice and reflection, and it should represent the complexity and diversity of modern Irish society. The Seanad is the ideal forum for voices of minorities, which otherwise would not be heard and would not be taken in to consideration during the legislative processes.

The appointment of an independent senator, who would not merely speak for migrants, but also be part of that community, would be a powerful message of inclusivity in Irish politics.

A carefully selected senator, who would represent migrants and understand our problems, could work as an engine for integration and make sure that problems which we are facing are addressed and presented on the political forum. Such a voice would make a distinctive contribution to the work of the Oireachtas.

It is worth highlighting that historically the upper house of the Irish Free State gave representation to religious minorities — Protestants. Otherwise they would not be represented in parliament. The same concept exists today in relation to migrants minorities.

There are many talented and skilled leaders within our communities who could successfully represent us in the Seanad and bring a fresh perspective to Irish politics.

Representatives of our organisations would be available to meet you, at your convenience, should you wish to discuss this further.

Pawel Jakacki, Dialogue & Diversity Sola Ekeh, Afra-Eorpach

Wojciech Kostka, Polish-Irish Educational Association

Rafika Rajab, The Arab Irish Cultural Centre

Kashif Jameel, Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council Millicent Brown, Jamaicans and Caribbean Communities in Ireland


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