Migrant graduates pave the way for diverse leadership in Irish society. Graduation Ceremony – Migrant Leadership Academy & Migrant-Councillor Internship Scheme 2023
Sunday, 2nd July
Migrant graduates pave the way for diverse leadership in Irish society.
Ensuring diversity in community leadership and politics in Ireland is key to social cohesion and strong communities. That’s according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), who celebrated 31 migrants graduating from political and leadership programmes, at a ceremony this weekend.
Run by the ICI, the courses completed by the graduates, including the Migrant Leadership Academy and Migrant Councillor Internship Scheme, are aimed at increasing migrant representation in politics and encouraging migrants to use their voice to enact change.
At a special event at EPIC Museum Dublin, graduates were presented with certificates. Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission delivered the keynote address.
Speaking at the graduation, Immigrant Council of Ireland CEO, Brian Killoran, said, “One of the most incredible benefits to working with diverse communities is the opportunity to interact with up-and-coming community and political leaders. The energy, dynamism, and passion of those who participate in our leadership academy and political internship scheme gives us all a boost, and shows us that the future is bright for social and community activism in Ireland, and for diversity in politics.
“By stepping up and participating, they are demonstrating their commitment to build a future for Ireland that is positive, diverse and informed by strong values of social justice, collaboration, mutual support and human rights. That’s an incredible thing, and so important in a world with many issues and challenges. We thank them for their commitment, and for participating.
“This year was a special year for the Migrant Leadership Academy, as we were able to invite new Ukrainian community leaders on board and foster an environment of collaboration and mutual support with other migrant and refugee leaders. This programme has shown us that working together in solidarity, there are no challenges that cannot be overcome.”
Adding to Mr. Killoran’s comments, Integration Manager at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Valéria Acquino said “We would like to thank the local councillors who supported our political engagement work this year. They have helped demonstrate that there is a strong appetite for making Irish politics more diverse and reflective of the reality of Irish society.
“At the Immigrant Council, our work is enriched by the interactions we have with the fantastic people we meet through the leadership academy and political internship scheme, and we know that communities and local politics in Ireland will be enriched when the talent and enthusiasm shown by this group is harnessed and given an opportunity to shine.
“Given the recent media and online attention around refugee rights in communities across the country, we’re at risk of losing sight of the overwhelming positivity around migration and diversity that exists in Irish society. To counter this, we need to ensure that we showcase the contribution and potential of those who have chosen Ireland as their new home, and that we all recognise migrants and refugees as equal members of our communities, who share in the successes we have as a society.”
18 graduates in total completed the Migrant Leadership Academy. The aim of the programme is to improve leadership skills and the capacity of participants to initiate, design and implement community-led campaigns and initiatives. It also aims to empower migrant and refugee communities to speak out on issues affecting them.
Mysi Badenhorst is a disability rights and inclusion activist and speaker, who took part in the Migrant Leadership Academy. As a mother to a child with cerebral palsy, she uses her voice and social media platforms to create conversations engaging the disability community. Mysi used the programme to refine her leadership skills and her dream in the future is to become the first black TD in Ireland.
Also recognised at the ceremony were 13 people who graduated from the Migrant Councillor Internship Scheme. The internship scheme is a mentoring programme that pairs local councillors with migrants who want to learn more about Irish politics and get involved in their local communities. Graduates from this programme hailed from Dublin, Waterford, Offaly, Galway, Cavan, Cork and Kildare.
Ekaterina Koneva, originally from Lithuania, took part in the Migrant Councillor Internship scheme. She has been living in Ireland for 16 years in Co.Offaly. Ekaterina has been an advocate for many years and wanted to become more active in politics. The internship provided her with experience of how the political system in Ireland works. She used the opportunity to get involved in local politics and learn as much as possible from her mentor – Edenderry Green Party Councillor Mark Hackett.
For further information, contact: Sorcha MacMahon / Niamh Breathnach, Alice Public Relations, Tel: 087-7585337 / 085-1461231. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
· Photos from the graduation ceremony can be accessed here.
· A video sharing the experiences of the Migrant Councillor Internship scheme is available to view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgHpvQ-dBHE
About the Immigrant Council of Ireland
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is the leading national human rights organisation working to defend migrant rights in Ireland. It provides free immigration advice and legal support through its helpline and law centre, as well as campaigning for immigration reform. The Council also provides support to victims of racism and human trafficking, and provides opportunities for migrants to connect with each other and their communities. Visit www.immigrantcouncil.ie for more information.