Ireland elects its first black mayor

Friday 29 June 2007 16.24
Rotimi Adebari - Integration is two-way process - (Photo: Exceptional Lives)
Rotimi Adebari - Integration is two-way process - (Photo: Exceptional Lives)

A Nigerian man who came to Ireland seven years ago to seek asylum in Ireland has made history by becoming Ireland's first black mayor. 

43-year-old Councillor Rotimi Adebari was elected the Mayor of Portlaoise Town Council on Thursday by a vote of six to three and with the support of Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Independent members of the council. 

At a meeting attended by officials from the Nigerian, South African and the United States embassies, the new mayor said his election was proof that Ireland is not just a country of a thousand welcomes but it is a country of equal opportunity. 

Councillor Adebari said Portlaoise is a town that looks beyond colour, creed and religion, but he said integration is a two-way process and involving or engaging members of the ethnic communities in local activities is the way to go. 

The election was attended by a crowd of over 100 people drawn from the Irish Nigerian community.

Elected as a councillor in 2004, Mr Adebari has a Masters degree in Intercultural Studies from Dublin City University and works with the local authority in Co Laois co-ordinating an integration projects for immigrants.

The father of four fled Nigeria with his wife and two children in 2000.