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Migrant – Councillor Internship Scheme

Geographic Area






Type of Information

Project or programme


Immigrant Council of Ireland

Contact Person

Teresa Buczkowska (Login to send email)

Contact Person Function

Integration Manager

Project Start


Ongoing Project



The Immigrant Council of Ireland's Migrant – Councillor Internship Scheme is a mentoring programme that pairs local councillors with migrants who want to learn more about Irish politics and get more involved with their local communities. 

Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption


The overall goal of the project is to increase diversity and representation amongst local elected representatives, and to increase voting within migrant communities. Specifically, the scheme aims to achieve the following:

  • To promote migrants’ political participation by building their capacity to be active in politics and encouraging them to run in local elections;
  • To 'platform' role models within migrant communities to encourage them to become active voters;
  • To build better understanding among local councillors about issues faced by local migrant communities.


Ireland has a highly inclusive electoral system that facilitates migrant political participation. Every adult living in Ireland, regardless of nationality and including asylum seekers and international students, is eligible to vote and run in local elections.

Despite this inclusivity, migrants in Ireland do not make full use of their political rights. One in every eight people (12%) in Irish society has a migrant background, however only between 6% and 30% of eligible migrants are registered to vote across the country's different electoral areas. Additionally, Irish politicians do not fully represent the diversity of the population: at the local level, only 11 1.1% councillors have a migrant background. 

How does it work

Within the scheme, the intern commits to approximately 7 hours of work per week for a 12 week period, with a local councillor.

It is expected that the internship will include the following activities:

  • Attendance at monthly council meetings;
  • Regular 1:1 discussions between the intern and the councillor;
  • Attendance at local community meetings and events;
  • Attendance at the relevant councillor’s advice clinic;
  • Organisation of an online meeting between the councillor and the local migrant community;
  • Canvassing;
  • Voter registration.

The Immigrant Council coordinates the recruitment of councillors and the matching of migrant interns with their hosting councillor. The organisation also provides ongoing support to all participants throughout the course of the internship.


The aim is to facilitate approximately 10 - 15 internships a year across Ireland. The interns are expected to register around 50 new voters from migrant communities during their internship, and will be encouraged to join a political party (if they have not done so prior to their internship). The interns will also be encouraged to run for local election.

Following the 2018 project pilot, 3 out of 5 interns received a party nomination to contest positions in the 2019 local elections. One candidate was ultimately co-opted to their local council in 2020.


The interns are expected to keep a journal of the activities in which they take part, and to arrange bi-weekly phone conversations with their project coordinator to discuss their progress and address any issues. At the end of the internship period, both the intern and councillor are expected carry out an evaluation exercise.

The evaluation report of the 2018 Migrant - Councillor Internship Scheme can be found here.

Who will benefit?

The primary beneficiaries of the project are the migrant interns, and the secondary target group is the local migrant community. Additionally, local councillors will benefit from the creation or strengthening of connections with local migrant communities.  

Source of funding and Resources used

The funding for this project was provided by the EU Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) through its multi-annual funding scheme. To ensure equal access to the programme for all migrants, it was crucial to provide coverage of basic expenses for the interns, such as travel, lunch, and childcare fees for single parents. The total budget for three years of implementation was € 24 000. Half of this was spent on project costs and the other half on salaries for the Project Coordinator and Communications Officer.