Ireland has great possibilities Minister tells new citizens
Nearly 850 people granted Irish citizenship in ceremony at University College Cork
New citizen Maria Guaman from Ecuador at the citizenship ceremony in UCC. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
New citizen Mona Elhilall from Sudan with her daughter Dagalla in UCC. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
New citizen Vigilia Alicay in UCC. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
New citizens Mariam Kheshlelashvili from Georgia and Maria Guaman from Ecuador in UCC. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Esther Gaba with members of the Irish army after receiving her citizenship at UCC. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Ireland is a place of diversity and openness where limitless possibilities exist for new arrivals, said Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald as she congratulated the latest group of immigrants to get Irish citizenship.
“You’re Irish, you belong here, you’re one of us . . . the possibilities open to you in Ireland today are almost limitless. Perhaps one day, you or a child or a grandchild of yours could be up here as a minister for justice or as a judge or perhaps the president of Ireland.”
Speaking at University College Cork, which hosted the citizenship ceremony, Ms Fitzgerald told the 845 new Irish citizens that Ireland now has the second highest rate of naturalisation per capita in the world.
“There is hardly a country on the planet that is not represented in our cities, towns and villages – from remote South Seas islands to the great American continent, from the vastness of Africa to the landmass of the east, Ireland is now home to people from all these lands.
“One small island at the periphery of Europe, a small island that once sent forth almost half its population in starvation and fear to other countries, is now a magnet nation and we are proud of that,” she said.
Administering the Declaration of Loyalty to the Nation and Fidelity to the State, retired judge Mr Justice Bryan McMahon urged the new citizens from 88 countries to use their skills and talents for the benefit of their new home.
“When the State honours you today by granting your citizenship, it does not require you to forget the country you come from. It does not ask to erase your memories or your personal unique history – do not forget your own country, your own people, your own traditions.
“Such memories are not contraband. Bring with you your music and your stories so that when your children and your childrens’children ask you about the old country, you can tell them – do not deny them their legacy,” said Mr Justice McMahon to loud applause.
Among those celebrating receiving Irish citizenship was Esther Gaba, from Togo in Africa and now resident in Finglas, Dublin, who was attending the ceremony with her children, twins, Eric and Erica (10).
“It was a day of happiness and a day of joy and a day of gladness,” she said. “I’m really grateful because I’ve been here for the past 10 years and I’ve seen the way the Irish Governnment and Irish people have been nice to me in so many different ways.”
For Nancy Pushparaj from Cheenai, India, who works as a nurse in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, it was an emotional occasion. “It was a fantastic ceremony, very moving, and when the judge spoke about bringing our own stories with us, I thought that was very beautiful.”
Jeremy Kizenga came to Ireland 18 years ago from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, speaking in a Dublin accent which prompted one Cork well-wisher to say he sounded like “a real jackeen”, the young Tallaght man said: “It’s a very important day. I always felt I was Irish but now I have the papers and passport to prove it. Me and my family are so excited and happy. It took us a while to get down from Dublin this morning but we weren’t going to miss today for the world.”