New Councillors from Diverse Backgrounds Hit the Ground Running
2019-07-01 11:06:47 -

By Anantika Khindaria


Besides winning in the recent elections, three new local councillors have something else in common: they have each made history as the first representatives of their respective diverse backgrounds.

Councillor Yemi Adenuga is the first black woman politician to win election in Ireland, while Councillor Hazel Chu is the country's first elected Irish-Chinese councillor, and Councillor Azad Talukder in Limerick is the first Muslim elected official.

The three align with different political parties and different counties, but together demonstrate a new wave of acceptance and progress for the Irish State.

Though excited for what the future holds, Adenuga, Chu and Talukder have each experienced an immediate sense of pressure following their election wins.

Adenuga opened her email inbox after being elected to an astounding 6,000 messages. "I opened it. I was like, 'Where do I begin?' A good number of them were congratulatory emails, but a large number as well would be from constituents, you know."

When asked whether he feels pressure to meet the expectations of the migrant community he now represents, Talukder said: "I do feel pressure, but I'm used to taking pressure. Yeah, I don't mind, and I do enjoy to take pressure too. 

"But the only thing, a lot of people don't understand the councillor role. You know, a lot of things we have very [many] limitations."

Chu echoed a similar sentiment in relation to the occasional misconception people can have of the councillors' direct abilities. 

She relayed the story of a phone call she got from a constituent on a Saturday while she was at a playground with her daughter.

The constituent insisted Chu be available to discuss a matter, despite the role being a part-time job for the trained barrister and communications executive — and one that pays only €17,000 a year.

Chu recalls: "And then she just seemed a bit shocked. And she just went, 'Oh, okay, well, okay, sorry, I'll leave you alone then.' And so, it was that kind of shock of realising, oh, you're being paid quite low for a job that you get 24 hour calls for."

The councillors are still learning the ropes, but one thing is for sure: they have hit the ground running.

TAGS : election council councillors diverse migrant
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