Ireland has become an increasingly diverse country in recent years. Our job as a party in government is to represent people from across Irish society, their views, needs and priorities, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Mary Seery Kearney, Seanad Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Privacy Rights, said Fine Gael is committed to ensuring a culture that promotes equality and values diversity.
Senator Seery Kearney said, “Our vision is a party that is fully diverse in and through its policies, public representatives and members.
“We want to reflect the broad and diverse range of people living in Ireland, irrespective of their gender, age, sexual orientation, place/country of birth, race, ethnicity, or any other defining identity. Inclusion and equality in representation is at the heart of a just society.”
Senator Seery Kearney in association with the Fine Gael Intercultural Network hosted a gathering of network members and the Fine Gael Parliamentary party in Leinster House, Tuesday 12th July 2022 to support this purpose.
The Fine Gael Intercultural Network (FGI) is a member grouping that works to promote the voices and perspectives of our migrant communities in Fine Gael policies and structures. Members in this network also work to promote, support, and inspire migrants to take leadership roles within Party structures and to run as candidates in elections.
Senator Seery Kearney continued, “We have three membership networks that work to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion. The Fine Gael Women’s network, The Fine Gael Intercultural network, and the Fine Gael LGBTQ+ network. These networks share perspectives, centre the voices of members from these communities and embody the principles of promoting voice, participation, and empowerment for members to take up leadership roles at all levels.
“We believe that to be a fully inclusive organisation, it is essential that we engage with individuals from all walks of life and enable them to work with us and support us. Fine Gael Intercultural plays a key role in supporting our party to increase diversity and inclusion of migrants and persons of migrant origin since 2016.
“I thoroughly enjoyed welcoming members from our Fine Gael Intercultural Network to Leinster House yesterday to celebrate and promote the growing multi-culturalism of our society and to build connections and collaborations across members of the Fine Gael Intercultural network and our elected representatives. Migrants’ political participation is essential for a healthy democracy and fair decision-making process. In Ireland, we have one of the most inclusive electoral systems globally, with every person regardless of their nationality being able to vote and run in local elections. In 2019, Fine Gael supported six people from migrant communities to run in the local elections and four were elected”, concluded Senator Seery-Kearney.
Cllr Yemi Adenuga, Ireland’s first-ever elected Black Female public representative, and Meath County Council’s first migrant councillor, knows of the importance of voice and visibility. As Chair of the Fine Gael Intercultural network, she has actively participated in the network and sees it as a key space for promoting and supporting the voices and perspectives of migrants, as well as promoting leadership at all levels of our party.
Cllr Adenuga said “We are not just speaking diversity as a word, it is an action. Whether your background is Irish Nigerian, Polish, American, Pakistani, Filipino, South African, there is a space for you, you have values you can bring to the table, so bring them to your community. Get involved because you are part of the solution.”
Speaking of his experience, Fine Gael Councillor for South Dublin County Council, Baby Pereppadan said, “I think it is really important to have diversity, especially in politics. Each person has their own perspective and opinions that have been greatly influenced by their culture and environmental circumstances. It is important to value the new, unique, and creative ideas that they bring to the table based on their own experiences and upbringing. It’s also a matter of inclusion, exchanging information between each other as well as solving issues and finding solutions together.
“I’m really grateful for all the support I received when I joined Fine Gael and when I decided to run in the local elections in 2019 as a Fine Gael member. While some may have turned a blind eye to my passion to become a councillor, many cheered for me and wished for my voice to be heard. I’ll always be grateful for their encouragement and faith in me, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am without it”, Cllr Pereppadan concluded.
The 2016 census showed that non-Irish nationals account for approximately one in eight (over 12 percent) of the Irish population. The migrant population is highly diverse in terms of nationality, ethnicity, religious belief, culture, and includes people of different ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Based on this, we recognise that there is a need for greater multi-cultural diversity in our party and in our politics.