Ellie Kisyombe granted leave to remain in Ireland

Then asylum seeker’s local election run for Social Democrats caused controversy in party

Ellie Kisyombe, an asylum seeker who ran as a local election candidate for the Social Democrats this year, says she has been granted leave to remain in Ireland. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

Ellie Kisyombe, an asylum seeker who ran as a local election candidate for the Social Democrats this year, says she has been granted leave to remain in Ireland. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

 

Ellie Kisyombe, an asylum seeker who ran as a local election candidate for the Social Democrats this year, says she has been granted leave to remain in Ireland.

Ms Kisyombe, who was the first person living in the direct provision system to run for election, posted on social media on Monday that she had been granted “residency” and permission to live in Ireland.

“It is with a great joy to share with you all that I have got my residency,” she wrote on Facebook. “I am still processing the news. Thank you all so much for your love and support”.

A few hours after posting about her permission to remain in the country, Ms Kisyombe received word that her 19-year-old twins, who arrived in Ireland a few years after her, had also been granted international protection.

“It’s such a lift, such a mix of emotions,” Ms Kisyombe told The Irish Times.

She said she initially received word that her residency had been granted through her solicitor last week but chose to wait for the confirmation letter from the Department of Justice before announcing the news.

“It’s such a huge relief off my shoulders now, it’s great to have that sense of security. I’ve been through so much at the end of the day.”

Campaigned

Ms Kisyombe, who is originally from Malawi and has regularly campaigned about the struggles of living in direct provision, made headlines earlier this year when allegations of inconsistencies in the story of when she came to Ireland were published in the Sunday Times.

The Social Democrats carried ordered independent review into the allegations and three members of its national executive resigned after the article was published. It later emerged that Dublin city councillor Gary Gannon and members of the party’s Dublin Central branch threatened to quit en masse if Ms Kisyombe was removed from the ticket. In early May, the party confirmed that Ms Kisyombe would continue her election campaign. She went on to secure 312 votes in Dublin’s North Inner City constituency.

Asked if she plans to continue her political career into the next general elections, Ms Kisyombe said she “can’t speak about politics right now”.

“At the moment I won’t say anything on it, I’m so full of emotions,” she said, adding that she plans to release an official statement in the coming days regarding her future plans.

“Ireland is home now and I’m proud to be a true Irish woman. Whatever it is needed to make Ireland great, that’s what I’m going to bring to Ireland now. This is where my heart is. This is where I want to see my children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren grow. I want my history to stay here.”