Multiculturalism in Ireland
in Racism and social change in the Republic of Ireland
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This chapter examines efforts to contest racism and discrimination faced by minorities in Ireland as expressions of multiculturalism. The multiculturalism is characterised by a narrow focus on liberal democratic rights with little emphasis upon racism as a factor in inequality and discrimination. It is argued that the dominant concepts within mainstream Irish equality discourse, 'interculturalism' and 'integration', become detached from their meanings within critiques, originating with Traveller organisations, of racism and cultural assimilation. Interculturalism in education has been promoted by Traveller groups and by the Irish National Teachers Organisation rather than the state. Many of the measures identified with interculturalism in Ireland have emerged within the voluntary sector. The notion that symbolic measures alone constitute a weak multiculturalism is an important point in the Irish context. Racism and inequality prevail unless symbolic multiculturalism goes hand in hand with measures to challenge the structural inequalities experienced by black and ethnic minorities.

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