Fractures, foreigners and fitting in: exploring attitudes towards immigration and integration in 'post conflict' Northern Ireland
Ethnopolitics, 10 (2).
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The 1998 Peace Agreement was a (consociational) form of pluralist settlement designed to end conflict in Northern Ireland through giving institutional recognition to the rights and identities of the ‘two communities’ (nationalist and unionist) in Northern Ireland (with some provision for a third category ‘other’). Critics of the consociational nature of the Agreement have argued that it overstates the extent and nature of the communal divide in Northern Ireland and has institutionalized division at the heart of governance in the region. Since 1998 Northern Ireland has shifted from being a region of net emigration to net immigration. Critics argue that this has brought greater levels of plurality to the region, but that the institutional framework established under the Agreement is not well equipped to deal with this plurality. The authors draw on survey data to explore this issue. It is argued that there is a good basis to the claims made by the critics, but some other factors are identified—chiefly a retreat from politics and the ambiguities of pluralism—that the authors believe also need to be considered in any attempt to understand the place of immigrants and ethnic minorities in a ‘new’ Northern Ireland.
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