Election results a ‘good omen’ for migrants – Sr Stan

Election results a ‘good omen’ for migrants – Sr Stan Cllr Uruemu Adejinmi, re-elected to the Longford Municipal District in the recent election

Prominent religious campaigners have welcomed the result of the local elections which saw a record number of immigrant candidates gaining seats compared to a small number of anti-immigration campaigners.

Founder of the Immigrant Council of Ireland Sr Stan Kennedy told The Irish Catholic the charity has been helping immigrants take part in the election as part of their work towards integration.

She said: “It really worked and it’s great. Of course, there are many who want the immigrants to take part and be part our society, there are others who don’t, but the election results are a good omen.”

Sr Stan added that there are many immigrants with a strong Faith which is “positive”.

“I think they are very earnest, and I think any encouragement that can be given to them, in all areas including the Church, including sports… there are many signs of hope and we should encourage it,” she said.

“Work needs to be done to encourage immigrants and help them find their place in Ireland, so many of them are working and they are contributing to society and it is never highlighted. All that is highlighted is that something bad that has happened, about the tents on the street – that’s all we hear – but there is the other side of migrants being integrated, making their contribution and it’s important to highlight that.”

Sr Stan added, that “with young Irish people not being very interested in the Church, we should encourage the immigrants to participate and they will support the spiritual side in Ireland”, and that “It’s great that we didn’t see the far-right getting anywhere in the election”.

Fr Peter McVerry said the election reflects the truth that the majority of Irish people are very open to migrants. However, he said “the problem is with the lack of services, not with the immigrants coming in, they do want the Government to provide housing, health and education services that are adequate to the numbers coming in”.

“So I think the anti-immigrant individuals and groups have got very, very little support by and in large Irish society, that does not mean they can’t have an influence. You don’t have to get elected to have an influence, we see that already that immigration has become a topic of concern for the political system but I think it’s more directed at the lack of services,” Fr McVerry said.

Asked about vibrant migrant Catholic communities in Ireland, he said: “Some churches have Masses on a Sunday in three or four different languages, Spanish, Russian, Polish and others, so they are making a contribution to our society.

“I always say about the anti-immigrants, if the non-Irish people working in Ireland were to go on strike for a day, our hospitals would close, public transport would shut down, many of the shops, retail units we have would not be able to function. They are making a huge contribution to Irish society, and to Irish culture and diversity which is great.”

Dublin’s new auxiliary, Bishop Paul Dempsey, welcomed the renewal migrant Catholics have brought to churches in the Archdiocese of Dublin at a Marian pilgrimage event organised by the Oblates in Inchicore on Sunday. It was dedicated especially to people and families from different international communities including the Hispanic, Brazilian, Greek-Catholic, Filipino, African, Italian, Vietnamese and Polish.

Bishop Paul Dempsey said: “You have enriched our society and our Church, here in Ireland. I have been in Dublin for a short while but even the parishes that I have visited, to see so many people coming to our churches, renewing the Church here in the Archdiocese of Dublin but also throughout the country. And I want to thank you for that.”

He added: “And to thank you on behalf of the archdiocese… to the priests that have come from different countries and sent missionaries here in Ireland. To thank them for the sacrifices that they have made coming away from their home cultures and their families. To bring the Faith to us here in Ireland. It is so inspiring for me, on my own journey of Faith, to welcome my own brother priests here and the great work that they are doing and for that great richness that they have brought.”