Ireland as a multicultural society
Integration is defined in current Irish policy as 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’. For the almost 13 per cent of the population who are non-Irish nationals, achieving real integration requires concerted policy responses aimed at supporting education, job activation, tackling hate speech and racism and supporting cultural awareness.
According to Census 2016, there was a total of 535,475 non-Irish nationals – representing 200 different nations - living in Ireland on Census night. The main nationalities were Polish (23 per cent) and UK (19 per cent). Other nationalities with over 10,000 residents included USA, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Spain. Non Irish nationals have a very different age profile to the rest of the population with half aged between 25 and 42 compared with a quarter of the Irish population. There are proportionately fewer children under 14 (12.3 per cent versus 22.5 per cent), and older people (4 per cent versus 13 per cent) among non-Irish nationals. The unemployment rate among non-Irish nationals was 15.4 per cent, compared with a rate of 12.6 per cent among the Irish population.
Census 2016 also asked people to identify their ethnicity and cultural background. 681,016 people identify themselves as other than “White Irish”, of whom 234,289 identify as Black, Asian or other people of colour.
At the time of writing, 74,458 Ukrainian refugees, primarily women and children, have arrived in Ireland with thousands more still expected. The EU is granting “temporary protection" status, which means they can live, settle and work in the EU for a period of time. This is to be welcomed; however, it is in stark contrast to the treatment of refugees fleeing other war-torn territories. Our approach needs to consistent, placing human rights at the centre of International Protection policies.