Migrants key in local elections

Joe O'Brien with Balbriggan residents Irena Suchecka (Polish) and John Itafemeh (Nigerian

Joe O’Brien with Balbriggan residents Irena Suchecka (Polish) and John Itafemeh (Nigerian

Census 2011 told us that over 18% of the population of Fingal were not Irish and Fingal has seen the largest growth in migrant numbers of any county since 2006. Political participation is one of the most powerful ways of participating in society and I would really like to see Fingal County Council making special efforts to educate migrants about their voting rights and get people registered for the local elections next year. In the last two weeks while canvassing I have met ten people who did not know they had the right to vote in next years local elections, including a German man in Skerries and  a Nigerian woman in Balbriggan. What a lot of people do not know is that everyone can vote in local elections regardless of nationality, status or time living in Ireland. If migrants are aware of their voting rights and exercise these rights they will have a significant influence on the outcome of next year’s local elections.

I would also like to see all the candidates doing something fresh and actually start competing for migrant votes. More importantly though I genuinely hope that we will see migrants running for election themselves across Fingal and hopefully we will have some migrant public representatives next year. Of course many people of migrant background have become Irish citizens in the last few years and I hope this will spur people further to exercise their political rights. For information on how to register to vote people should visit http://www.checktheregister.ie’

On Monday August 19th New Communities Partnership launched a guide on promoting participation of migrants in Local Government, Fingal County Council were one of the four participating local authorities:

http://www.integratingdublin.ie/newsevents/news/2013/08/16/ncp-launches-a-practical-guide-to-assisting-integr/

 On Wednesday August 21st Fingal County Council announced two new polling stations in Balbriggan and Swords. The above picture shows Joe O’Brien outside the new Balbriggan Polling Station at St. Molaga’s N.S. with Balbriggan residents Irena Suchecka (Polish) and John Itafemeh (Nigerian) with voter registration forms.

For information on polling stations visit

http://www.fingalcoco.ie/YourLocalCouncil/LocalDemocracy/RegisterofElectors/New%20Polling%20Stations%20for%20Swords.Balbriggan.pdf

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