Crosscare Migrant Project provides an information and advocacy service to over 3,000 migrants every year from its Dublin City base. We also aim to affect positive change in migration related policy. We continually draw from our experience of working with Irish emigrants abroad and we continue to work with prospective and returned Irish emigrants.
Levels of political participation are some of the key indicators of inclusion of various social groups. The EU has clearly marked participation in the democratic process as one of the basic principles of successful migrant integration. According to Census 2011 just under 12% of the population of Ireland is non-Irish. Increasingly our non-Irish residents are becoming Irish citizens. Between January 2005 and June 2012 some 42,000 people became Irish citizens through naturalisation. Irish citizens of migrant background are a growing group and part of Irish society. Levels of political representation and participation need to increase accordingly.
The 2011 General Election saw a handful of new Irish citizens run for the Dáil – approximately 3 of the 564 people who ran for the 166 seats were naturalised Irish citizens. This is about half of one per cent of the candidates. While Ireland is at the early stages of its migrant integration story 0.5% is a percentage that needs to be improved upon significantly if Irish citizens of migrant background and migrant issues are to be represented at the central place of power in our society.
In response to this situation CMP is developing a scheme which will enhance the transparency of Irish politics for all and make it more accessible and meaningful to a marginalised and growing group of people that constitute 12% of the population of Ireland. The OPD Scheme Following on from recommendations of the report by the Africa Solidarity Centre in 2003 called Positive Politics and drawing from the example of an MP Shadowing Scheme that has been operating in the UK since 1999, with the support of the European Integration Fund Crosscare Migrant Project started up a TD Shadowing scheme for people with a migrant background - the Opening Power to Diversity Scheme (OPD Scheme).
Through the OPD scheme participants will get direct experience of the work of TDs. Participants will be matched with a particular TD for two days a week over a six month period. They will attend Committee meetings, Dáil sessions and where possible other meetings the TD holds as part of his/her immediate role in the Oireachtas. The participants will also be a part of the TDs office and will contribute actively to the work of the TD. Participants will also assist with constituency work. The six month period will usually encompass two Dáil terms. TDs from all parties and Independents will be targeted. This is a voluntary position and no financial remuneration is involved.
The participants involved will be people who:
The ultimate aim of the scheme will be to help facilitate greater involvement in politics of people of migrant background. More particularly the impact of the OPD Scheme will be at three levels:
For more information contact Danielle Mc Laughlin, Policy Officer, Crosscare Migrant Project, Cathedral St., Dublin 1. 01-8732844 and firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is co-financed by the European Commission under the European Integration Fund and is supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Dept of Justice & Equality & Pobal.