Tolerance of religious and cultural diversity in Irish institutions
Comparing hijabs in schools and turbans in the Garda reserve
in Tolerance and diversity in Ireland, North and South
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In a short period of time, Ireland has had to develop policies for a population that has become increasingly diverse. This chapter explores the subtexts of two controversies generated by the growing religious and cultural diversity in Irish institutions: the (Muslim) hijab in Irish schools and the (Sikh) turban in the Garda (Police) Reserve. Using a critical discourse analysis approach, it highlights and examines the main argumentative strategies through which these controversies and their repercussions have been constructed and debated in Ireland. More specifically, it explores what these reveal about Irish institutions’ and Irish society’s level of acceptance towards diversity on a spectrum of non-toleration, toleration and respect-recognition. While the Irish educational system has offered a level of structural and practical accommodation to (religious) minorities, acceptance of cultural and religious diversity in state institutions can depend on a number of factors, including the limited nature of the claim and the size of the minority, and is also conditional on the consequences of such diversity for Irish institutions’ self-perceptions.

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