The New Irish/Na Nua-Éireannaigh Indian-born Councillor Punam Rane feels Irish through and through
2019-08-01 12:28:29 -
Immigration
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By Chinedu Onyejelem

During the Celtic Tiger years, Indian-born IT consultant Punam Rane was one of the many immigrants headhunted by Irish companies to fill serious skills shortages in the State. 

Almost 19 years after she first arrived, now local Councillor Punam Rane says she has never felt different from the Irish. “I have travelled all over the world and I still think Ireland is home for me,” she says.

“I never considered myself an immigrant. The minute you think [in that] perspective, you would never feel that you are part of society. The minute you think that, your struggle starts.”

Persuaded by the demographics of the Dublin 15 area in the north-west of the city, Cllr Rane said she made a conscious decision to make the area her home (she lives in Castleknock). It was never about politics as she had no interest then in running for an elective position.

Things changed more recently. Two years ago, she quit her job in an investment bank to start her own firm, consulting for banks and financial institutions on software development. She also got more involved in mentoring start-ups, and also worked with schools to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education in primary schools. 

It was as a result of her proactive nature in these areas that Fine Gael approached her to run as a councillor in Fingal County Council’s Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart ward. She says she saw her call to serve as an opportunity to deepen her belief in the Irish system. 

“I canvassed every single day from January. By the last day of canvassing, there was nothing on my list I did not do,” she says, recalling that she even suffered a dog bite as she dropped leaflets from door to door.
Her priorities included investment in new schools and funding for improvement of existing ones, provision for better play areas or children, as well as sports facilities and community centres, and ensuring the road network can keep up with the demands of the growing area. Voters seemed to agree, as she was elected this past May.

Although Cllr Rane has only a few words of Irish, she is a big fan of the Language and would like to get behind promoting it through her role on the council. 

“I feel that the language will die if we don’t promote it, and you don’t want it to die … My daughter learns Irish and I am proud of that.”

Cllr Rane said the need to protect and promote the language “is not about if it is used or not, but that it is a country’s language.” 

Rather than reverse the current system that makes Irish compulsory in secondary schools, Cllr Rane believes “more Irish cultural programmes, including dance, writing competitions, speech and drama competitions should be introduced in both primary and secondary schools to promote the language”.

As a councillor, it is not mandatory for her or her colleagues to use Irish as they conduct their business, but Cllr Rane sees her role as an opportunity to embrace more of the Irish culture. She is fascinated about the way some other councillors speak Irish in the council and then translate same into English for the betterment of those who do not understand.

“There is encouragement to speak it,” she says. “Now that I am a councillor, I would have to learn the language more.”

Cllr Rane is optimistic about what she can achieve for her constituents in the next five years. Since being sworn in on 7 June, she says she has discussed with residents across Dublin 15 in a bid to resolve their problems, including helping to remove two abandoned cars from one housing estate.

She is also looking for forward to September when the council returns from summer recess. She hopes to dedicate more time to work on housing, though cautious that there is “no overnight solution that I can offer but to try and understand and help people along the way”.
TAGS : Councillor Punam Rane IT consultant living in Ireland
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