Four Fine Gael councillors from a migrant background have been elected to local authorities in a welcome breakthrough for new communities in Ireland.
The party led the way in the local elections, running more candidates from a migrant background than any other party, and the return has shown the electorate is ready for a more diverse reflection of modern Ireland in politics.
The four candidates elected are: Yemi Adenuga (Meath County Council), Baby Pereppadan (South Dublin County Council), Kazi Ahmed (Dun Laoghaire County Council) and Punam Rane (Fingal County Council).
Ms Adenuga, who has been elected to Meath County Council is the first black woman ever to be elected to a local authority in Ireland. She will already be familiar to many people due to her part on Gogglebox.
“I hope my election will be positive, for not just the migrant community in Navan, but also for anyone who feels marginalised. I have a voice and I intend to speak loudly for those who want to be heard about issues that impact on their lives.
“I want to be able to bring about a positive change in this community. Navan has a community spirit and I don’t want us to lose it,” she said.
Baby Pereppadan, has been elected to South Dublin County Council, to represent the Tallaght South Ward.
Originally from India, the father-of-two has been living in the Tallaght area for the last 17 years. He welcomed his election and the cross-community support he received as a proud moment for him and his family.
“I am looking forward to working hard on the areas I have prioritised including tackling anti-social behaviour, illegal dumping and housing issues,” he said.
Dublin 15 resident Punam Rane has been elected to Fingal County Council, where she will represent the Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart ward.
An active member of the local community, Ms Rane has a background in promoting entrepreneurship and a greater focus on STEM education for young people.
“I hope my election will help show people from all backgrounds that there are always opportunities get involved in their community,” she said.
“Fine Gael now stands out as a party that gives opportunity to people from all walks of life,” she added.
For Kazi Ahmed in the Glencullen/Sandyford ward of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, the election coincided with Ramadan, meaning he was canvassing while fasting during daylight hours.
“I am delighted to have an opportunity to represent the people of Glencullen/ Sandyford where I have lived for more than a decade. Ireland is my home and I am looking forward to promoting the need for more secondary schools and many more green spaces locally,” he said.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, welcomed the election of four of Fine Gael’s newest local reps.
He said: “Ireland has benefited enormously from immigration over the years and I am so pleased that politics is beginning to reflect that.
“This election has seen a record number of candidates from a migrant background elected nationwide but there is still much work to be done to ensure that we are as inclusive as possible. I am proud to see Fine Gael leading the way in this area and I’m sure all of our new councillors are eager to get to work for their constituents.”
NOTE TO EDITORS: Councillors Adneuga, Ahmed, Rane and Pereppadan are available for interview.
Yemi Adenuga: 0872930713
Kazi Ahmed: 0860313448
Punam Rane: 0892544372
Baby Pereppadan: 0872930719