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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2007, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Ireland elects first black mayor
Rotimi Adebari
Mr Adebari said it was a great honour
A Nigerian man who arrived in Ireland as an asylum seeker seven years ago has become the country's first black mayor.

Rotimi Adebari has been elected as first citizen of Portlaoise in County Laois.

The 43-year-old fled from Nigeria in 2000 because of religious persecution. After a few weeks, he and his family settled in the County Laois town.

In 2004, he was elected in the local elections as an independent councillor and on Thursday he became mayor.

The move was the result of a voting pact between Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and independent councillors.

The father-of-four has completed a masters degree in intercultural studies at Dublin City University and now works for Laois County Council, co-ordinating an integration project for local immigrants.

Mr Adebari said it was a great honour to become Portlaoise's first citizen, but that praise should be given to the people who elected him three years ago.

"Ireland is really changing. The immigrant community in the town has been growing, especially since the accession countries joined the European Union on enlargement in 2004," he said.

However, he added: "That is not to say that I did not have my own share of the prejudice that would be out there against maybe Nigerians, or immigrants or asylum seekers."

"But I don't let the attitude of a very small minority over-shadow the fact that the people are wonderful."

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