When Lola Gonzalez moved to Carrick-on-Shannon from her native Panama in Central America seven years ago, she was amazed to discover than migrant people like herself could vote in the local elections. She was, however, disappointed to see a lack of ethnic and gender diversity on the make-up of county councils around the country.
That’s why, after many years of work in the community and migrant sector, she has now decided to run as an Independent candidate in the 2024 local elections.
When Lola began to research the political landscape in Ireland, that’s when she discovered See Her Elected. She initially signed up for the ‘Introduction to Politics’ course with See Her Elected a number of years ago and has now progressed onto more intensive workshops as she prepares to put her name on the ballot paper in the Carrick-on-Shannon municipal district.
“I feel that migrants and migrant women in particular are lacking a voice on our county councils. We have difficult challenges, there are language barriers or cultural differences, and many migrants don’t fully understand the range of services available from their council – whether that’s around housing or environment or information about childcare. Many migrants still don’t realise that they can vote in the local elections so that’s also a big challenge in helping to get the migrant community on the Register of Electors,” said Lola.
A former chairperson of the Leitrim International Community Group, Lola previously worked in the retail sector before recently taking up a new job as an Inclusion and EU Project Specialist with Momentum Consulting in the County Leitrim town.
“I want to give a voice to the migrant community and also be a voice for women. At the moment they are almost invisible in our county councils, and I want to change that,” concludes Lola.