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- Author: Nathalie Rougier x
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This book examines the treatment of cultural and religious diversity - indigenous and immigrant - on both sides of the Irish border in order to analyse the current state of tolerance, and the kinds of policies that may support integration while respecting diversity. While it is sometimes argued that in contemporary societies we need to go ‘beyond tolerance’ to more positive recognition, new and continuing tensions and conflicts among groups suggest that there may still be a role for tolerance. The first set of chapters focus on the spheres of education, civic life and politics, including chapters on specific groups (e.g. travellers, immigrants), as well as the communal divisions in Northern Ireland. Later chapters reflect on the Irish experience of diversity, and assess the extent to which the conceptual approaches and discourses employed to deal with it are comparable between the jurisdictions of the Republic and Northern Ireland. Finally the book considers the implications for what constitutes the most appropriate approach to diversity - whether this should ideally be in terms of tolerance and mutual accommodation, of recognition, or transformative reconciliation. This is the first book to address the issue of tolerance across the broad sweep of different kinds of religious and cultural diversity in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The introduction outlines the rationale for the volume – to consider normative issues of tolerance and acceptance in their concrete social and political contexts – in this case in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It first provides the underlying conceptual framework of tolerance, respect and recognition. It then explains the importance of considering together the issues of tolerance in Northern Ireland and the Republic, and outlines the varying contexts and kinds of religious and cultural diversity in which the issues addressed in the book arise. It then provides an introduction to the material in the chapters that follow.
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.
The conclusion draws out some comparisons and contrasts between the preceding chapters, and between the responses to the various challenges that have arisen in Ireland, North and South in order to reflect whether or not there are lessons to be learnt in either jurisdiction from practices on the other side of the border. What are the limits of toleration in terms of practices, participation, and so forth? How comparable are the issues arising, and to what extent are similar or different frames of reference in operation in the two jurisdictions? The variety of approaches serves to demonstrate the complexity of the issues that arise, and militates against over-simplified responses, whether theoretical or practical. The chapter argues in conclusion for the importance of further cross-border comparison on these issues.