Ireland

   
TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 1.5 4 4.5

 

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.

   
Affirmation Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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 policyalong Canadian lines or whether it is likely to opt for a form of calibrated or de facto assimilation.”
  • There has been some discussion of integration strategies that allow immigrants to maintain their own culture in reports conducted in 1998 and 1999. 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.
  • Until 2017, Ireland did not have a formal integration policy (Mac Éinrí 2005; O’Connor 2018; Glynn 2014) As Boucher (2008, 6) described, it was a “collection of policy statements and piece-meal, reactive policy responses to immediate, experiential policy problems.” He argued that the lack of a coordinated integration framework was “more about maintaining social cohesion and social order by individual immigrants adapting to the existing Irish national society, rather than the government or Irish society adapting to the changes arising from immigration and cultural diversity. It also defines integration in terms of facilitating Irish national social cohesion and social order, by encouraging immigrants to individually integrate by themselves through de facto assimilation, not by retaining their own cultural identity” (Boucher 2008, 13).
  • The first Migrant Integration Strategy was established in 2017. The Strategy outlines a four-year plan for actions that government departments to undertake that are intended to help migrants in their transition to Ireland (European Commission 2019c). The framework encompasses integration strategies for ten core areas of policy: citizenship and long-term residency; public services; education; employment; health; community integration; political participation; combating racism; volunteering; and sports (Government of Ireland 2019). The Strategy advises that all government agencies provide information in diverse languages wherever applicable, increase signage in public offices where interpretation services are available, and help ensure that information about reporting racism is more accessible for migrants (European Commission 2019c). The Strategy also established the Communities Integration Fund to support intercultural programming (European Commission 2019c; Government of Ireland 2019). While this framework represents an important step toward filling what was broadly understood as an integration policy gap (Crawley and Crimes 2010), it principally adopts the language of interculturalism and the integration of minorities into Ireland. In fact, one of the core strategic themes outlined in the policy includes “promoting interculturalism with emphasis on finding common ground and creating mutual respect” (Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration 2018).
  • Nonetheless, the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration has made some references about the value of embracing diversity and acknowledging that integration is a “two-way process” in a speech addressing the opening of a family resource centre (Minister of State 2017). The statement, however, provides little affirmation or mention of multiculturalism. As O’Connor (2018, 342) remarks, “Ireland has not outlined a specific policy that reflects such a position toward diversity whereby the right to difference is enshrined. There is still no over-arching framework that embeds the requirement that diverse identities must be recognised at all scales; in schools, workplaces, etc. Although the rhetoric of inter-culturalism and respect for difference was adopted, none of the necessary incentives or funding have been put in place, leaving a vacuum in which migrant individuals must adapt themselves to the majority culture.”
  • NGOs and local authorities have played a critical role in pushing for integration measures in Ireland (Glynn 2014). 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, and that local authorities are facing challenges supporting integration efforts with state funding cutbacks.
 

2. THE ADOPTION OF MULTICULTURALISM IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM

    Yes.

   
School Curriculum Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Education Act (1998) posits that Irish education “respects the diversity of values, beliefs, languages and traditions in Irish society and is conducted in a spirit of partnership.
  • In the 2000s there was a notable escalation in interest in the challenges associated with intercultural education in Ireland (Fitzgibbon 2013).
  • 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 beaccorded 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.”
  • In 2010, Ireland developed an Intercultural Education Strategy (IES) that sought to recognize diversity and promote equality and human rights (Department of Education and Skills and the Office of the Minister for Integration 2010). Language learning is one of the strategy’s key components but it also makes reference to respecting and accommodating cultural diversity and ensuring inclusion and integration. Equality policy and anti-racism education are also included within the approach. This suggests that the school curriculum now includes an approach that while not multiculturalism in name does include elements that encourage accommodation, equality, and inclusion.
  • In addition to the IES, the Migrant Integration Strategy also maintains that education (at all levels) is a critical pillar of policy development and assessment. Since its implementation, the Department of Education and Skills has collected additional data on migrant children in the school system. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment commissioned a study that is presently assessing the experiences of racialized and minority youth in schools. The study will present “an intimate portrait of school and community life” that is intended to further enhance policy and curricula development in intercultural education (Government of Ireland 2019, 39).
 

3. THE INCLUSION OF ETHNIC REPRESENTATION/SENSITIVITY IN THE MANDATE OF PUBLIC MEDIA OR MEDIA LICENSING

    Yes, but only very recently.

   
Media Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0.5 0.5

Evidence:

  • A new Broadcasting Bill was enacted in 2009. It established the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) 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 2020).
  • 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. As Cullen International (2019) notes, the mandate of RTE to “reflect the cultural diversity of Ireland” is “expressed by reference to the country as a nation, rather than by reference to communities, special groups or a multicultural dimension.” RTE places a large emphasis on recognizing regional diversity within Ireland and providing programs to suit the different cultural experiences of Irish-speaking people throughout the country (Cullen International 2019).
  • Training in cultural sensitivity is provided to a limited degree both in-house and through professional journalism programs (Fitzgibbon 2009). However, RTE has no policy on diversity training within its organization and lacks support for minority staff (Rogers et al. 2014). As of 2014, there were no journalists with a specialization in intercultural affairs or issues linked to racism and ethnic minorities (Rogers et al. 2014). RTE also had no measures in place to ensure the representation of minorities in the organization, but has been working in recent years to address discrimination in recruitment processes (Rogers et al. 2014).
 

4. EXEMPTIONS FROM DRESS CODES (EITHER BY STATUTE OR COURT CASES)

    Some, but inconsistent.

   
Exemption Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0.5 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).
  • To date, there is no official ban on veils or headscarves at the national, regional, or local level in Ireland (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018). In 2018, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar noted that “We are not proposing any burqa bans or any legislation on what people can or can’t wear on their heads – so short answer is [there are] no plans to do that” (Finn 2018). The decision from the party was firmly grounded in the notion of religious freedom, as Varadkar stated: “I believe in the freedom of religion. I don’t agree with the doctrine of every religion or necessarily any religion, but I do believe in the freedom of religion” (Finn 2018).
  • There have been some bans on face coverings and headscarves in schools. Some far-right parties have proposed banning headscarves, but most schools allow them so long as the color corresponds with uniform policies. In 2008, the School Board of Management granted permission for the hijab to be worn to school in contravention of school uniforms (Islamic Human Rights Commission 2004; Kermalli 2008), but administrators sought clarification from the school board regarding guidelines for religious dress. The Department of Education consulted the Office of the Minister for Integration; they jointly recommended that uniform policy remain at the discretion of school administrators, and that schools should consult with the broader school community on such matters (Rougier 2013). In 2010, further guidelines were circulated to 450 Catholic secondary schools regarding the restriction of the veil, which led several schools to place a ban on veils on school premises (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018). These guidelines drew a clear distinction between the hijab and the niqab, largely on the basis that face coverings were argued to impede communication in the classroom (Rougier 2013). School administrations principally have control over this issue, so regulations differ markedly across schools and communities.
  • The Equal Status Act of 2000 prohibits indirect discrimination. This prohibition has been used to ensure that girls are allowed to attend schools while wearing a hijab (Islamic Human Rights Commission 2004; O'Farrell 2012, 8). The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 similarly ensures that all students have access to schools, and are not discriminated against on the basis of religion (Houses of the Oireachtas 2018).
  • In 2007, Ireland’s police force, the Garda Reserve, demanded a Sikh officer wear a regular helmet instead of his turban (BBC 2007). This practice was overturned in 2019, and new regulations permit officers to wear turbans, hijabs, and headscarves; it still bans the wearing of burqas and niqabs (Gallagher 2019). Changes to the dress policy were largely conveyed as an effort to diversify the police force and recruit more ethnic minorities.
 

5. ALLOWS DUAL CITIZENSHIP

    Yes.

   
Dual Citizenship Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Ireland permits foreign nationals to naturalize and still retain any prior citizenships (Department of Justice 2021; 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 (Department of Foreign Affairs 2021; see also Mac Éinrí 2005).
 

6. THE FUNDING OF ETHNIC GROUP ORGANIZATIONS OR ACTIVITIES

    Yes.

   
Funding Ethnic Groups Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0.5 1

Evidence:

  • The National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism was established in 1998. It worked with community organizations to support anti-racism and intercultural projects (National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism 2001).
  • 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). At that time, the Minister of Integration allocated funding to local governments, national sporting bodies, and faith-based groups. It appears, however, that “mainstream” organizations were 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). As a report described, “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).
  • As such, the funding of NGOs and local organizations was a central consideration in the Migrant Integration Strategy 2017-2020 (Government of Ireland 2019). The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration offers the Communities Integration Fund, an annual grant available to local organizations, community groups, faith-based groups, sports clubs, and cultural organizations “wishing to carry out activities  to promote the integration of migrant and host communities, foster mutual cultural respect and encourage migrant participation in civil and cultural life” (Department of Justice and Equality 2019; see also Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration 2019). This fund was established in 2017 and delivers a total of €500,000 annually. In 2019, an additional €26,000 was available for arts-based integration projects specifically. To date, 246 projects have received funding (Government of Ireland 2019).
  • The National Integration Funding Programme, overseen by the Department of Justice and Equality, also funds a number of antiracism initiatives, especially those involving youth. In 2017, the Programme funded 14 projects, providing a total of €1.8 million (which was complemented with additional EU program funds) to support such projects (Department of Justice and Equality 2017).
 

7. THE FUNDING OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION OR MOTHER TONGUE INSTRUCTION

    Limited, but more recent policies are improving access to foreign-language learning in Ireland.

   
Bilingual Education Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0.5 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.).
  • In 2008 the Department of Education Language Policy Division published a report promoting a plural- lingual approach to language education. The report noted that the number of languages being offered to students for examination had risen from 5 in 2005 to 19 in 2008 (OECD 2009, 73-74).
  • Recognizing many of the shortcomings of its foreign-language course offerings at all levels of schooling, the Department of Education and Skills launched Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026 in 2017. The policy was developed in response to the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 which identified improvements in language acquisition among students at the primary and secondary levels. Although the Strategy outlines some major overhauls for the language courses in schools, much of this is principally centered on its value to Ireland’s economy. Indeed, as the Executive Summary notes, there is a “shortage of graduates and sufficiently skilled people in the languages of trade and business” (Department of Education and Skills 2017, 6). Nonetheless, improvements have been made in terms of improving course offerings, and some of the core initiatives include: increasing the number of foreign language assistants in schools, improving students’ attitudes toward foreign language education, and improving the quality of foreign language teaching overall. In terms of support for immigrants, the Strategy states that it will “Carry out an audit, in collaboration with interested embassies, in order to identify locations where there is a level of interest and demand for mother tongue support to inform further provision” (Department of Education and Skills 2017, 10).
 

8. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR DISADVANTAGED IMMIGRANT GROUPS

   No.

   
Affirmative Action Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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.