Rub of the green as Ireland celebrates its newest citizens

Cork-based mother of two among 2,700 people receiving Irish citizenship

Kabir Ahmed stood outside Dublin’s Convention Centre in the sunshine on Friday, holding the future of Ireland in his arms.

Areesha Kabir and Ghaniya Kabir are aged three and almost one. They were born in Cork University Hospital. The girls’ mother, Mubashra Kabir, was among the 2,700 people getting their Irish citizenship on Friday.

The family arrived, via Lahore in Pakistan, by degrees. Kabir came first, getting a master’s degree in computing at Waterford Institute of Technology, then a job at IBM in Cork. Having succeeded at college and in getting a job, Kabir was also successful in love. Phone lines between Cork and Lahore permitting, his connection with BA graduate Mubashra was never broken.

The girls and their father sat with relations as Mubashra was ushered to the section of the auditorium where her fellow almost-citizens waited to swear an oath to Ireland.

The Army band of the Second Brigade struck up an interesting medley. The James Bond theme song Live and Let Die was followed by Seán South from Garryowen. Both songs allude to death, but, luckily, no one seemed overly bothered by this as they prepared to start their new lives.

More than 85,000 people have become Irish citizens since 2011 and it is a serious business that everyone has scrubbed up rather well for.

Master of ceremonies

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality, was MC at the event.

“It is truly amazing that this tiny island, at the edge of western Europe, facing into the Atlantic Ocean, which is home to us all, has as its citizens people who have come to live with us from every country on this planet.” he said.

“As you leave here today, your history and the narrative of your life is now part of our history . . . It is an important day for Ireland.”

Ireland’s newest citizens were encouraged to bring all their experiences and their culture to the table.

“Almost 100 years after the Proclamation, I am delighted to address you all as Irish men and Irish women,” said Ó Ríordáin. “We are a proud nation that values tolerance and diversity.”

No one is to forget where they came from.

Mubashra and Kabir are now citizens of the same country, again. They smile. They plan to stay here and bring up their girls, as “the education is good” and they are confident that the girls will be able to do whatever they want to do.

They are happy living in the suburbs of Ireland’s second city. They love the accent and are more than happy to hear the Corkonian lilt as their daughters learn to talk.

The couple have built a network of friends, some from Pakistan, others not, but all valued. It makes up for being so far from their families.

They won’t forget Pakistan, but their daughters will be equipped to be citizens of the world. The girls are learning to be Irish.

World Cup support

So did the family support Ireland or Pakistan when the two countries met recently in the cricket World Cup?

“I was talking to my colleagues and they were asking me this. I said it was a win/win situation. If Pakistan win, I win. If Ireland win, I win,” says Kabir.

Ireland lost. Luckily, both teams are “boys in green”.

The sun is shining as the ceremony ends and spills its precious cargo on to the Dublin quays. People are smiling. People are talking. People are taking photographs.

A nation accustomed to emigration is celebrating its newest citizens.

Two white Irish men push their way through the happy crowd.

"Is this what James Connolly died for?" one of them snarls.

Why, yes, it is, my friend. And in case you have forgotten, Connolly was not born in Ireland either.