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Tendai Madondo, former candidate for the Green Party, among those who have chosen not to run for Irish political office due to lack of support and racism. Photo by: Google Images

Ireland's immigrant candidates opt out of politics due to growing racism

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Tendai Madondo, former candidate for the Green Party, among those who have chosen not to run for Irish political office due to lack of support and racism. Photo by: Google Images

Several of Ireland's high-profile immigrant candidates have decided not to put their names forward in 2014 in part due to lack of party support and a rise in racism.

The Sunday Independent reports that a number of former candidates believe that they would have been elected as councillors in 2009 if their parties had given them full support.

Adeola Ogunsina, Fine Gael's current equality officer for the Dublin West constituency, Tallaght-based Green Party candidate Tendai Madondo, and independents Patrick Maphoso (Dublin Central) and Rashid Butt (Mullingar Town Council) have all decided to opt out of next year's local elections.

Ogunsina refused to run in the Castleknock or Mulhuddart wards despite Fine Gael’s efforts to persuade him to put his name forward.

He told the Independent: "Fine Gael head office contacted me through a local councillor in the area (Castleknock). When I said I was not going to run, I had an informal meeting with the local TD (Minister Leo Varadkar) who told me the advantages of running in the area, in terms of political representation and the possibility of winning because of my previous performance as a candidate. I had 1,368 votes when I contested in 2009. And he said because the number of councillors (for the area) has increased, I have a better chance of winning."

He said if he went ahead he does not believe he would win the election because of the the current public sentiment in Ireland against immigrants. He added that Fine Gael as well as other parties should promote the contributions immigrants have made to Irish society to make them acceptable candidates at elections.

Ogunsina also said there is a difference between getting support from a political party and getting it from local party activists.

"If I decide to run, local party activists would decide if they want to support me. If Fine Gael assures me that local party activists will give me equal support and assistance without trying to put (indigenous) Irish candidates first, then I will reconsider my position," he said.

"Many people who campaigned for me last time (2009 local election) were not necessarily members of Fine Gael. I had two strong Fine Gael activists but did not get as many party activists as I would have loved. Many party activists who were scheduled to campaign for me cancelled due to one reason or another."

Tendai Madondo, from Zimbabwe, of the Green Party wants "to work more broadly than focusing on the local issues."

Rashid Butt, of Mullingar, cited personal reasons for staying out of the race, as well as difficulties for campaigning immigrants due to a hostile racial environment.

Patrick Maphoso, of Dublin, is not contesting saying he doesn't believe Irish people "are ready for change."

Maphoso, who was the target of racial abuse during his 2009 campaign, said: "According to my assessment, it will take 10 to 15 years for immigrants to get proper representation in this country unless there's a political will."
 

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