Call for greater ethnic minority and immigrant participation in Irish politics

December 9, 2003

Written by Arun Kundnani

A new report from the Africa Solidarity Centre in Dublin highlights the exclusion of immigrants and ethnic minorities from Irish political parties.

Based on research conducted by Dr. Bryan Fanning of University College, Dublin, Fidèle Mutwarasibo and Neltah Chadamoyo, the report published this week reveals that none of the political parties in Ireland have any specific strategies in place to encourage immigrants and ethnic minorities to participate in Irish politics, either as members or candidates. Despite the diversity of today’s Irish population, to date just one party (the Green Party) has selected a candidate from an immigrant or ethnic minority background for the forthcoming local elections, in spring 2004.

The report suggests that ‘many Irish political parties do not, as of yet, consider immigrants and ethnic minorities as potential supporters’. Irish Travellers, naturalised immigrants as well as non-citizens (who are eligible to vote and stand in local elections) are thus being excluded from the political process. This in turn makes it easier for politicians to exploit racism for electoral gain, for example by pandering to prejudices against asylum seekers.

Related links

Positive politics: participation of immigrants and ethnic minorities in the electoral process can be downloaded from the Africa Centre website.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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