By Meghan Nosal
A coalition of immigrant-led organisations has launched a campaign demanding equality in legislation, housing, wages, education and the labour market as the General Election fast approaches.
Migrants for Ireland’s manifesto also calls on politicians to commit to legislation on hate crimes, immigration, the ratifying the Istanbul Convention on FGM and the 27th Amendment, which removed the Constitutional birthright to citizenship for children of foreign nationals.
The group is also demanding an end to deportations and the direct provision system as it called on Ireland’s politicians to see immigration as an opportunity.
Twelve per cent of Ireland’s population are immigrants, the group added, but few of these are naturalised citizens with the right to vote in the General Election.
Meanwhile, Migrants for Ireland is also urging migrants to participate in Irish society and be heard in the decision-making processes.
The coalition believes Government bodies and local authorities need to work more with immigrant communities, and is calling on election candidates to pledge to better represent such communities throughout Ireland.
Speaking at the launch of the Migrants for Ireland manifesto, Neltah Chadamoyo of the Africa Centre encouraged eligible migrants to make their votes count.
“Our vote is a negotiation,” she said, adding that “the Government had not produced legislation to help our community.”
Emily Waszak of the Anti Racism Network Ireland echoed Chadomoyo’s comments, saying that migrants need to hold their politicians responsible – especially in the push to end direct provision. “They admit to it being inhumane, so why can’t we end it?” she said.
As far as Ireland’s migrants being under-represented in the electorate, Waszak suggested ‘vote-sharing’ as a way to build solidarity and achieve “real action” within migrant communities.
- As of press time, Metro Éireann had learned of only two immigrant candidates declared for the 2016 General Election.
Canadian-Irish international law lecturer Dr Rosyln Fuller hopes to be elected as an independent in the new five-seat constituency of Dublin Fingal, which is home to significant migrant communities – as is Dublin Mid-West, where Patrick Akpoveta, who previously stood for local election in Lucan, is also running as an independent.
Support is growing nationally for independents and candidates representing new parties such as Renua, Direct Democracy Ireland and the Social Democrats, as well as the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Without Profit.
RTÉ’s first campaign poll shows that gains are also predicted for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, however the Government parties – Fine Gael and Labour – are also expected to retain many of their seats, though likely short of a majority.