Asylum seeker turned postman becomes Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork

Cllr Honore Kamegni recently became first person of colour elected to Cork City Council

Honore Kamegni after being elected Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork. Photograph: Barry Roche

It was arguably the most surprising story of the local elections in Cork and last night a 46-year-old asylum seeker turned postman became not just the first person of colour to sit on Cork City Council but also the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork on his first day in the council.

Cllr Honore Kamegni (pronounced Kameni with a silent ‘g’) was elected for the Green Party in Cork City Council’s South East Ward a fortnight ago. Last night he became Deputy Lord Mayor of the city when he defeated Cllr Kenneth Collins of Sinn Féin by 23 votes to seven.

Cameroon-born Honore was surrounded by wellwishers after he accepted the Deputy Lord Mayor’s chain from his predecessor, former Cllr Colette Finn and posed with family for photos on a historic night that also saw his Green Party colleague Cllr Dan Boyle elected Lord Mayor.

Honore said he fled his home in Bafang in western Cameroon to “avoid persecution and get a better life” and that journey brought him as an asylum seeker to Ireland in 2002, first to Waterford where he met his wife, Viviane, and later in 2005 to Cork.


It was when they moved to Cork that they settled down with their two daughters, Sonia (20) and Paris (16). Honore obtained work with An Post as a postman, delivering mail in Douglas and Rochestown in a job that was to stand to him hugely when he decided to run for election.

“I’ve always been a supporter of the Green Party. I love the Green Party, but I only decided to become active in 2022 – what prompted me was that I wanted to make Cork a better place of living for all of us and I wanted to leave a safe planet to my children and the next generation.

“What motivated me was that in 2022, I looked at a video of a council meeting on the YouTube and there was no diversity on the council – there were no black persons in the picture, and I said to myself, something has to be done to change it and that I had to do something to change it.”

Offered the chance to run for the Green Party by Cork Party Chairman Eoin Murphy, Honore quickly got stuck into the mammoth challenge of introducing himself to the 34,000 voters living in Blackrock, Mahon, Ballinlough, Ballintemple, Douglas, Grange, Frankfield and Rochestown.

“I started canvassing in April 2023 – I said to myself ‘I am a new candidate, nobody knows me, it’s my first time standing and the only chance I have is to talk to people and get myself known to the residents and get the residents to know me’ so I began knocking on doors.

“I tried to knock on every single door from rural to city – I knocked on at least 15,000 doors and some more than once and I handed out over 20,000 leaflets during my canvassing – I had no weekend, no Saturday, no Sunday, no Bank Holiday off.

“No weather conditions could stop me, be it rain, wind, snow – I don’t know how many kilometres I walked but that doesn’t matter now because all the hard work paid off and on June 10th, 2024, I was elected – the first black member of Cork City Council,” he said.

Thanking his wife Viviane and his daughters, Sonia and Paris, for their unstinting support and his hard-working campaign team, Honore said he hoped that his election would serve as a pathway to future generations from minority backgrounds.

“I am very proud to become the first black person to sit on Cork City Council and I am proud to have done this as a member of the Green Party. There are many issues in the world today but one issue we can’t afford to let slip off the agenda is the existential crisis of climate change,” he said.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times