Green Party councillor Hazel Chu made history last night after becoming the first person with immigrant parents to be elected Lord Mayor of Dublin.
“It’s surreal,” she told the Irish Independent after the Dublin-born daughter of Chinese immigrants was elected by an overwhelming margin of 43-9 to become the city’s 352nd and ninth female mayor at a special meeting at the Mansion House.
“It’s a historic and overwhelming occasion and really joyous but at the same time we are in a state of emergency still,” she said referring to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Consequently, she said, Dublin and the rest of Ireland still faced major challenges ahead as the economy gradually reopensedand people came to terms with the new reality.
She paid tribute to the frontline workers who continue to battle the spread of the virus as well as those who have died from it.
And aside from the challenges posed by the pandemic, she also spoke of her concern over the growing polarisation in Irish society that has led to the emergence of right-wing groups opposed to multiculturalism and diversity.
“You do have these far-right voices that we see in Sweden and the US that we are starting to see here, but if we don’t keep it in check it will get more divisive,” she said.
She said people could no longer stand by and say or do nothing when they witnessed discrimination or racial abuse.
Ms Chu has previously spoken of her own experiences of racism and being told to go back to her own country.
But she couldn’t be more proud of her heritage last night as she paid tribute to her mother Stella, who could neither read nor write when she moved to Ireland from her native Hong Kong and made a new life for herself by working as a dishwasher in a restaurant off O’Connell Street. It was there she met Hazel’s father.
Independent councillor Cieran Perry congratulated Ms Chu on her new role, adding: “If that upsets the racist and fascist clowns, then that’s a bonus.”
Meanwhile, Ms Chu, who represents the Green Party in the Pembroke ward, said she intended to move into the council’s historic Mansion House with her partner Patrick Costello and their two-year-old daughter Alex.
“I plan to be an ambassador for the city, locally and nationally, and to help shine a light on the increased diversity and different perspectives Dublin has to offer. As the ninth woman to be voted in as Lord Mayor, I want to encourage more women to put themselves forward for politics and positions of leadership so that we can build a stronger, more reflective society which benefits us all,” she added.
“It is more important than ever that a diverse range of voices are represented on a national level. I look forward to working with the other councillors cross-party to highlight these issues and to help deliver a changeable agenda for our wonderful city.”
She will be joined at the helm by Social Democrats councillor Mary Callaghan who was elected as Deputy Lord Mayor by the same 43-9 margin.
Their election marks the third time in the council’s history that the top elected officials are both women.
Source: Irish News