PUSH NEWS 24 INTERNATIONAL : February 6th, 2022

When Yemi Adenuga relocated to Ireland from Nigeria in 2000, she had no interest in any political office. Yet in 2019, the former Gogglebox Ireland star became Ireland’s first elected black female public representative and Meath County Council’s first migrant councillor.

She had built a 10-year career as a radio and TV broadcaster in Nigeria but moved to Ireland for family reasons. Adenuga settled in Dublin but found life wasn’t as smooth as she had hoped.

When the now-49-year-old couldn’t land a job in the media industry, she started looking elsewhere. Armed with an accountancy degree, she found a job but found it difficult to rise in the role.

“I remember when there was an opening in one department, I requested to shadow, in the hope that I would be given a chance when the company decided to fill the vacant position.” She was told the job was taken, but some time later she learned that it had, in fact, been vacant. Another manager, shocked to learn how Adenuga had been treated, offered her the position immediately.

The experience gave Adenuga an indication of the challenges ahead.

Adenuga had been actively involved in her local community of Navan but was not interested in mainstream politics, even when asked to get involved. “A delegate of Fine Gael approached me and said the party wanted me to represent them at a local level in Navan. My first answer was no,” she says.

“I needed to be clear in my mind if I was going in [it was] for the right reasons. I needed to be convinced that I could bring something onboard. Having had serious conversations with my husband, we decided that the office would be a bigger platform to do more of what I was already doing in the community.”

There is a marked underrepresentation of black people and other ethnic minorities in Irish politics when compared with the diversity of the country. The 2016 census showed 12 per cent of Irish society are people of migrant backgrounds. Yet of the 160 members in the Dáil, only one is of ethnic minority.

Out of 949 local councillors, only 10 are from migrant backgrounds and only two are black.

“We have no shortage of migrants in different communities and I’d like to see them run in every local electoral area, in every county in Ireland. That would reflect the support minority groups are getting and would make for a more inclusive country,’’ says Uruemu Adejinmi, Ireland’s only other black public representative, serving on Longford County Council.

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