State ‘proud’ to welcome more than 1,000 new citizens

Long and winding road to citizenship ends for Iranian-Kurd Zak Moradi and family

Over one thousand new Irish citizens celebrated their naturalisation via a special online ceremony organised by the Department of Justice. The event was streamed live and featured music and testimonials . Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Growing up in Iraq as an Iranian-Kurd, Zak Moradi felt he existed in “no man’s land”.

The family sought refuge in Ireland in 2002, settling in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, when Moradi was 11 years old. Almost a decade later they were granted Irish citizenship and on Tuesday were among more than 1,000 new Irish citizens to be welcomed in a virtual ceremony hosted by the Department of Justice.

“It has been a long journey,” said Moradi, now aged 30 and a well-known Leitrim senior hurler. Many of his relatives have never owned a passport, he said, noting naturalisation means “everything to me and my family”.

Speaking at the virtual ceremony, Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said Ireland is “richer” thanks to the contributions made by its new residents. Irishness means different things to different people, but for many it is about “belonging”, she said.

“You are Ireland’s newest citizens and we are very proud of you . . . I know that for many of you the road to Irish citizenship has been a long one. Thank you for sticking with us.”

The “security” citizenship brings something Moradi’s family is unused to: “It means we are Irish . . . We are no different to any Irish person . . . I might be a little tanner than the rest of yous,” he added.

He has experienced occasional racism in his new homeland, but feels this comes only from a “small minority” of people who are uneducated about other cultures.

“I am a Kurd and we suffered racism in the Middle East for the last hundreds of years,” he said, adding that he didn’t experience any problems in Leitrim or Tallaght.

“The country is cold but the people are very warm . . . I am sure 99 per cent of the country is happy with refugees and other foreign nationals and that is what makes the country great.”

Lucyna Edgar

Lucyna Edgar’s Irish citizenship makes her feel ‘part of this country’. Photograph: Maxwells
Lucyna Edgar’s Irish citizenship makes her feel ‘part of this country’. Photograph: Maxwells

Performing at the ceremony was new Irish citizen and harpist Lucyna Edgar and her daughter, on the violin. From the small town of Bielawa in southwestern Poland, Ms Edgar was struck by the beauty of the Irish landscape upon arrival and overjoyed to discover “this whole new world of traditional music”. She is proud to contribute to the culture and customs of the country through her harp playing.

Irish citizenship makes her feel “part of this country” where she has lived for approximately 20 years.

“Being Irish is quite surreal . . . There are so many Irish people all over the world and I am just so proud to be Irish myself now,” she said.

While citizenship brings many practical legal advantages, such as being eligible to vote, it also makes Edgar feel “valued and appreciated” on the island she calls home.