Blog: For us immigrants who have made Ireland our home, it is our civic responsibility to exercise our political right to vote

May 13, 2024

Blog by Fahmeda Naheed, Project Coordinator at Doras

On June 7th, all of us who reside in Ireland have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process of our country. Particularly as immigrants, we have a unique chance to be part of the solution to many problems which our country is facing: access to housing, health, employment, justice and many others.

Equality and equity can never be possible unless all voices are heard through the political process. According to the latest Irish Census, non-Irish citizens now account for 12 percent of the population. We are a significant group in this country, and this is a chance to contribute to lessening the political disenfranchisement that many are facing as a result of hate, racism, discrimination and under-representation at personal and collective levels. Exercising our voting rights is a matter of political dignity.

Everyone residing in Ireland and aged 18 or over can vote in the upcoming local elections on June 7th, provided they register before the 20th of May. We will have a chance to choose our local councillors, and in Limerick, for the first time, we will vote for a Mayor.

The European Parliament elections are set for the same date and all Irish nationals and other EU citizens resident in Ireland can vote.  For naturalised Irish citizens, using the power of the vote is a way to engage with Europe and enforce the sense of participation and political representation.

The political process provides an integration opportunity for migrants and all communities to engage in political dialogue, learning about political parties and the political history of Ireland. By engaging in the process and expressing our opinion, we are saying: my voice counts, and I do matter.

By voting, we strengthen and improve public mechanisms and spaces and participate in the public debate and decision-making. We strengthen the civic role we play, as political participation is a human rights issue too. Promoting migrant political engagement plays a part in building a more inclusive society.

Migration is a mega-trend of our century. Countries, cities and societies will continue to welcome migrants and acknowledge the contributions we make. Migrants, as part of the political engine, need a fair and proper amount of political participation for their benefit as well as to create just and fair societies. Many national and international migrantion issues can be  resolved by people getting involved and working together.  

For us immigrants who have made Ireland our home, it is our civic responsibility to exercise our political right to vote.