Sectarian legacies and the marginalisation of migrants
in Immigrants as outsiders in the two Irelands
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Northern Ireland is shifting from a Province focused on ethnic conflict and community polarisation to an increasingly diverse society. The scope for multiple or intersectional identities, however, is limited in the political sphere. This chapter examines the role that political division and power-sharing have played in the lack of significant progress in mainstreaming responses to new migrants (European migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers), as well as long-established groups (British Asian and Chinese) within social policy in the region, and the political integration of groups outside of the ‘two communities’ in Northern Ireland. The construction of political parties along sectarian lines in Northern Ireland, and a power-sharing system which sees political advantages given to parties which designate as ‘green’ or ‘orange’, validate the fears held by many migrants that they cannot participate in the political process without choosing sides. This compounds the disengagement of minorities in the region and further reduces the accountability of political leaders to them. The social and institutional reinforcement of the two-community narrative inhibits integration and the mainstreaming of minority identity into public policy, which has a deleterious effect on provision of health and social care services, education, employment and social mobility for these groups.

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