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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Ireland

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1.5 3


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and / or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Ireland has only very recently recognized itself as a country of immigration, and policy development in this area is quite embryonic. Mac Éinrí (2005, 26) notes that “Ireland has not yet decided whether in the long term it wishes to embrace an explicitly multiculturalist policy along Canadian lines or whether it is likely to opt for a form of calibrated or de facto assimilation.”
  • In 1999, the government issued a report called Integration: A Two-Way Process which dealt only with refugees but was nonetheless the first official statement on integration policy in Ireland. The report noted that “integration means the ability to participate to the extent that a person needs and wishes in all of the major components of society, without having to relinquish his or her own cultural identity” (quoted in Mac Éinrí 2005, 23). In spite of this, the report was more an expression of aspirations than a commitment to particular policies and Mac Éinrí (2005) argues that it failed to grapple with the fundamental shifts that need to occur in terms of public attitudes, institutions and service provision. 
  • Mac Éinrí (2005) suggests that there has not yet been a formal integration policy in Ireland, while Boucher (2008, 6) decries the lack of a coherent integration policy; he refers to the approach as a “collection of policy statements and piece-meal, reactive policy responses to immediate, experiential policy problems.”
  • In 2005, the government established the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), which is structured as a “one-stop shop” for immigrants. It deals with entry policy, visas, asylum and citizenship (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service 2009). Although Mac Éinrí (2005) mentions that an Immigration Integration Unit was also proposed, it does not appear that such a body has yet been created, although an Office of the Minister for Integration was established in 2007. Crawley and Crimes (2010) argue that no strategic policy framework has yet been adopted. Nonetheless, the minister did publish a statement on integration in 2008. The statement was entitled Migration Nation and made various commitments to developing programs and institutional supports to facilitate newcomers’ integration in Ireland. Although the statement mentions the importance of “respecting cultural differences,” it provides little affirmation or mention of multiculturalism (Office of the Minister for Integration 2008).
  • With respect to the involvement of minorities in policy consultations, a Public Consultation Procedure on Immigration Policies was held in 2001 and provided an opportunity for the public, NGOs and other organizations to provide input into proposed changes to the Immigration Act. The consultations were not binding, however, and it is not clear the ethnic communities were given any special or dedicated role (Mac Éinrí 2005). In summarizing civil society and the voluntary sector in Ireland, Mac Éinrí (2005, 34) notes that “insofar as there is a lacuna in this field, it is that there are as yet very few formal consultative structures in which migrants and/or their representatives must be consulted as of right or where there is any obligation on the statutory side formally to take their views into account.”
  • Up until 2008 when it was disbanded because of government cutbacks, the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) worked to encourage greater consultation and discussion. The NCCRI was created in 1998 by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and comprised various government departments, agencies and NGOs. It provided policy advice and developed programs aimed at combating racism, promoting a more participatory intercultural society, and including and integrating minorities (Mac Éinrí 2005; Crawley and Crimes 2010).
  • At the municipal level, some cities have made efforts in this area. For example, the city of Dublin created an Office for Integration in 2006. It has developed policies on integration and interculturalism, including a Charter for Integration and a framework strategy entitled “Towards Integration.” Programs include equality and diversity training, language courses, and cultural celebrations, and the office has also provided support to migrant and cultural groups to undertake community-based projects (Crawley and Crimes 2010). The Longford County Council has also published an Intercultural Strategic Plan (Fitzgibbon 2009). Note, in both cases however, the focus is on interculturalism, not multiculturalism.


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • A national Intercultural Education Strategy is currently being prepared; consultations commenced in 2008, and a report is expected in 2010 (Fitzgibbon 2009; Office of the Minister for Integration 2010). 
  • In addition, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (2006) has prepared some guidelines for intercultural education. In their guidelines, they differentiate between multicultural and intercultural approaches, viewing the former as a term to describe societies where cultures live side-by-side with little interaction, while the latter is deemed to reflect “a belief that we all become personally enriched by coming in contact with and experiencing other cultures, and that people of different cultures can and should be able to engage with each other and learn from each other.” 
  • In the guidelines, intercultural education is presented as an approach that is integrated across subject areas and whose primary aims are to encourage curiosity about other cultures, to “normalise difference,” to develop critical thinking about one’s own cultural practices, to encourage sensitivity, and to prevent racism (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 2006). Other cultures do not appear to be accorded an equal status per se; rather, students are simply encouraged to respect and appreciate them. Moreover, the development of “intercultural capabilities” is presented as a skill that will aid students in the “real-world.”
  • A report on Ireland’s education system, which was prepared by the OECD (2009), confirms that there is no policy stipulating that the curriculum and textbooks recognize diverse cultural backgrounds and no funding is provided to schools to assist them in developing curriculum or teaching materials that would promote cultural diversity or intercultural education.


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation / sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   Yes, but only very recently.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • A new Broadcasting Bill was enacted in 2009. It established the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and placed an increased emphasis on ensuring programming meets the needs of listeners and viewers (Fitzgibbon 2009). Some of the Broadcasting Authority’s objectives are to ensure programming serves the needs of the people of the island of Ireland, bearing in mind their languages and traditions and their religious, ethnic and cultural diversity; to uphold democratic values, including the right to free speech; and to provide open and pluralistic broadcasting services (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland 2010).
  • Prior to the passage of the new broadcasting bill, there was little in the legislation that required the media to reflect or represent the country’s ethnic diversity.
  • In addition, according to Fitzgibbon (2009, 13), “the legislative mandate of the national public service broadcaster (RTÉ) provides that RTÉ’s programming shall reflect the cultural diversity of the whole island of Ireland and shall cater for the expectations of the community generally as well as for members of the community with special or minority interests.” In spite of this, RTÉ’s mandate still places a heavy emphasis on ensuring viewers and listeners have access to high-quality Irish radio and television programs.
  • Nonetheless, training in cultural sensitivity is provided to a limited degree both in-house and through professional journalism programs (Fitzgibbon 2009).


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   Some, but inconsistent and not widespread.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • Although the Employment Equality Act protects against discrimination on various grounds, including race and religion, the prohibited grounds are deemed not to apply “when a difference in treatment is based on a characteristic which constitutes a genuine and determining occupational requirement, where the objective is legitimate and the requirement proportionate” (O’Farrell 2008, 60).
  • Nonetheless, the wearing of the hijab does not appear to be a significant issue. Some far-right parties have proposed banning headscarves, but most schools allow them, so long as the colour conforms with uniform policies (Kermalli 2008).
  • However, in 2007, Ireland’s police force, the Garda Reserve, demanded a Sikh officer wear a regular helmet instead of his turban (BBC 2007); this policy appears to still be enforced.


5. Allows dual citizenship

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Ireland permits foreign nationals to naturalize and still retain any prior citizenships (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service 2010; see also Howard 2005). Note, however, that Irish-born citizens are required to renounce their Irish citizenship if they naturalize in another country.
  • Moreover, a referendum and the subsequent passage of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act (2004) replaced the principle of “automaticity,” which previously allowed children to acquire Irish citizenship on the basis of birth in the country. Since 2005, Irish citizenship at birth can only be acquired if the child is born to an Irish citizen, or if the parents are not Irish nationals then they must have resided in the country for a period of at least three years prior to the birth of the child (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service 2010; see also Mac Éinrí 2005).

6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   Limited.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 0.5

Evidence:



  • Prior to 2008, some funding to support ethnic organizations or activities was provided by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism. When the NCCRI was disbanded, these competences shifted to the Minister of Integration, but the budget was cut by 26 percent (Fitzgibbon 2009). Since 2008, the Minister of Integration has allocated funding to local governments, national sporting bodies and faith-based groups. It appears, however, that “mainstream” organizations are the primary beneficiaries of this fund; a list of the 2008-2009 recipients lists no organizations that would be considered ethno-specific (Office of the Minister for Integration 2009).
  • Nonetheless, the Ministry does resource the Fund for Initiatives for the Integration of Legally Resident Immigrants. The fund disbursed €3 million in 2006 and a further €1 million in 2007. The amount of funding disbursed in subsequent years is not clear. Most of the recipients are “mainstream” service providers delivering various integration programs. In theory, however, ethno-specific agencies can apply and would be eligible to receive the funds, so long as their proposed programs meet with the eligibility criteria. Eligible projects included “strategies and actions that will contribute to the successful integration of legally resident immigrants and their families into Irish society, [such as] education and employment supports, language training, capacity building, intercultural activities” (Pobal 2009, 1). One group that has received support through the fund is AkiDwA, which is an Afro-specific network of women that undertook research on gender-based violence and the health needs of African women (Pobal 2009). 
  • Still, it is noted in one recent report that “if community organisms are to play a larger role in migrant integration, their capacity to consult, to plan, to implement ideas and to deliver services will need to be expanded. This will require sustained support by government and the development of a more mature working relationship across the sector, characterized by better coordination among NGOs and more effective ties with government ministries” (Burstein 2006, 164; emphasis added).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   Limited.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • In an OECD (2009) report on the education system in Ireland, it is noted that the curriculum includes no language policy specific to immigrant or minority pupils; that is, there is no provision of instruction in the mother tongue and no bilingual or immersion programs. Further, it is noted that priority is to ensure students are able to speak English fluently, and this is where the emphasis is placed.
  • Nonetheless, students may study another language as part of the Leaving Certificate Examination, but these languages are limited to Irish, English, Ancient Greek, Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Russian. The goal here appears to be the development of students who speak multiple languages; this does not appear to be a policy couched in multicultural principles or aimed at preserving students’ fluency in their mother tongue (see OECD 2009).
  • Moreover, even in a set of guidelines for intercultural education, which were produced by the National Council on Curriculum Assessment (2006, 5) and where much is made of the country’s cultural diversity, it is nonetheless noted only that “both Irish and English play an important role in Irish identity and society, and both languages are required subjects of study for students following the junior cycle programme.” The guidelines refer further to providing “language support” but this seems to be limited to instruction in Irish- or English-as-a-second-language, encouraging a general appreciation of linguistic diversity, posting important notices in the most common mother tongues of students, and providing multilingual resources where possible.
  • Still, the Department of Education and Science does make some funds available for local community-based initiatives that promote migrants’ mother tongues and cultures. Groups must apply for these funds, and the courses typically take place on weekends (OECD 2009). In addition, the governments of Poland and Japan provide some mother-tongue language courses; these are extra-curricular and an initiative of these governments (ibid.).


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • The Employment Equality Act 1998-2004 and Equal Status Act 2000-2004 prohibit discrimination on several grounds, including religious belief, race, nationality and ethnic origin (O’Farrell 2008). However, the Employment Equality Act in section 12(7) does provide for differential treatment on the basis of nationality, race or ethnic origin noting that it is “not discrimination to offer assistance to particular categories of persons by way of sponsorships, scholarships, bursaries or other awards” (O’Farrell 2008, 62).
  • Nonetheless, although nothing in the legislative framework prohibits the introduction of positive action measures, such as quotas or preferential hiring, where such schemes exist, they have tended to target persons with disabilities, workers over the age of 50, and the Roma/Traveller population (O’Farrell 2008). No measures specific to racial or immigrant minorities could be found. 
  • With respect to anti-racism initiatives, the National Action Plan Against Racism (NPAR) was adopted in 2005 and concluded in 2008 (Crawley and Crimes 2010). It had five core objectives: (1) Effective protection and redress against racism, including a focus on discrimination, threatening behaviour and incitement to hatred; (2) economic inclusion and equality of opportunity, including a focus on employment, the workplace and poverty; (3) accommodating diversity in service provision, including a focus on common outcomes, education, health, social services and childcare, accommodation and the administration of justice; (4) recognition and awareness of diversity, including a focus on awareness-raising, the media and the arts, sport and tourism; and (5) full participation in Irish society, including a focus on the political level, the policy level and the community level (see Mac Éinrí 2005). The NPAR was instrumental in encouraging more intercultural workplaces and in the development of various anti-racism and workplace diversity initiatives (Crawley and Crimes 2010). When the NPAR concluded, responsibility for anti-racism initiatives shifted to the Office of the Minister for Integration, although the budget was cut significantly.

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