New citizens swear loyalty to the land of 2,300 welcomes
YEMISI Olaoye arrived in this country 12 years ago as a terrified widow with three young children and her life in turmoil.
Her husband, a customs officer, had been murdered in the course of his duties in their native Nigeria after uncovering a car smuggling racket.
One of his colleagues had come to her with the news -- and a warning for Yemisi that the criminals might target her and her family. "I was told, 'Run for your life'," she said.
So Yemisi fled to Ireland, taking her children with her, and here she found a refuge where she could begin rebuilding her life.
Yemisi lives in Dundalk, Co Louth, and works as a cleaner. Two years after arriving here, she was joined by her brother, Abiodun Badmus.
The official seal was put on Yemisi's happy new life when she joined 2,300 people from all over the world who were granted Irish citizenship at a ceremony at the Convention Centre in Dublin.
"I was very frightened when I arrived in Ireland but this is the happiest day of my life. I am so happy -- so, so, happy," said Yemisi.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter and retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon presided over the three ceremonies that took place yesterday.
Mr Shatter welcomed our newest citizens, saying many had been waiting a long time for this day to arrive, and he hoped they would continue to contribute to Irish communities.
The 'new Irish' swore their loyalty to the nation and fidelity to the State and undertook to observe the laws of the land and respect its democratic values.
Then, having come into the room as nationals from many countries, they rose for Amhran na bhFiann as citizens of one -- Ireland.
Among them were Damian Kwasniowski and his wife Marzena Kwasniowska, originally from Poland, who have been living in Blanchardstown, Dublin, for six years and working in the pharmaceutical industry.
They have two children, Weronika (4) and eight-month-old Julian.
"We're working here and have a mortgage so Ireland feels very much like home now. We're going to stay," said Damian.