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Okafor criticises Fine Gael candidate’s ‘false promises’ to migrants

Last update - Thursday, May 7, 2009, 00:41 By Metro Éireann

An independent candidate in next month’s local elections has written an open letter to Fine Gael criticising ‘blatantly false’ campaign promises made to immigrant voters in north-west Dublin.

Ignatius Okafor, an independent candidate in the Mulhuddart constituency, says that at a campaign meeting before an audience of African immigrants in Blanchardstown last Sunday, his Fine Gael opponent Adeola Ogunsina stated that “we will get passports and status for immigrants within six months” if they voted for him.
Okafor, who was present at the meeting, says he challenged this statement but “was derided by Fine Gael party members for not knowing what I was talking about when it came to Irish politics.”
Later on, Okafor claims he was approached by others at the event who confirmed that they and their friends had been made the same promise on previous occasions by Ogunsina.
Metro Éireann has spoken to people present at the campaign meeting who have corroborated Okafor’s version of events.
“I thought Mr Ogunsina may have just spoken out of turn on this occasion,” writes Okafor in his open letter, “but as the evening progressed I was continually approached by others with similar accounts, and I knew that this was too serious an issue to ignore.”
He continues: “To hold out such blatantly false promises only serves to undermine the integration of our society. It will surely lead to many new immigrants becoming disillusioned with Irish society, further alienating them from participating fully in our communities.”
Okafor explains in his letter that it is intended to urge Fine Gael to clarify its position on the promises made by Ogunsina.
“The current climate in Irish society will not be served by such representatives who play on the hopes and fears of the electorate so recklessly,” he added. “It is now a time for honesty and integrity to be at the forefront in Irish politics.”
Metro Éireann read Okafor’s letter to Adeola Ogunsina, who denies making any “false promises” to people. He said: “Currently Fine Gael is working on immigration and integration policy which it hopes will make the system more effecient, more transparent and faster.”
Ogunsina added that people are waiting up to three years to get decision on their naturalisation application, and that there is also a backlog in the process.

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