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“There is a lot that can be done to make individuals from minoritised backgrounds feel welcome and valued” INAR spokeperson says.

Bartira Aygelli for The Circular.Org

Irish people have been increasingly exposed to a mix of cultural and ethnic groups.

Since the pandemic, Ireland saw a significant increase in immigration, the figures shows that up to April 2023, with 141,600 people arriving into the Country.

Before the Celtic Tiger that initiate the massive immigration movement, Ireland was already familiar with cultural diversity with the Traveller community. Nowadays, the Traveller community account for approximately 0.5% of the Irish population. With the rapid growth of the Irish economy, the number of immigrants increased in the first decade of the 21st century.

Since the drastic rise of immigrants, Ireland has made significant progress
toward cultural awareness and integration with the official recognition of Travellers
as an ethnic minority in 2017 and the adoption of the Migration Integration Strategy

Despite the implementation of new strategies, the Irish Network Against Racism
(INAR) reported the number of incidents reaching 600 (rising from 404 in 2021), the system also recorded 223 criminal incidents, including racist assaults, a record 190 reports of illegal discrimination and 136 reports of hate speech. Compared to 2021.

Bronwyn April, the strength and diversity project coordinator for the Dublin City Community Coop says that this integration must willingness from Irish people and also the migrant

“Cultural awareness is about exploring one’s own bias,” she says.

“As Ireland moves to become more diverse, there needs to be a willingness from the
host country (community) and migrant communities as well. To learn from and
engage with one another, and be brave enough to have honest conversations
around how to successfully live alongside one another, without the expectation that
one another abandons their own culture and values, ” she adds.

Bronwyn is from South Africa and decided to make Ireland her permanent home like
many other immigrants living in the country. 

Chichi and Tad’s wedding: Photo by Bartira Augelli

Multicultural relationships; many immigrants have built a life and started a family
here like Chichi, that recently married with Tad.

Tad talks about the perks and challenges of the multicultural relationship.

“I have been exposed to all aspects of Chichi’s Igbo cultural
heritage through her family. I particularly enjoy Nigerian food, so being taught how to
cook traditional dishes by my sister and mother-in-law has been great fun,” he says.

Chichis’s Mom. Photo by Bartira Augelli

The most challenging part of a multicultural relationship for me is the cultural
differences that can lead to embarrassing misunderstandings. 

“Religion is a serious matter in Nigerian culture and is a topic I have to be cautious to
voice any opinion on (in earshot),” said Tad.

Chichi at first described Irish people as “quite cold, although they warmed up once
you got to know them or they had a drink!”. According to Chichi, “there are so many
similarities between Irish and Igbo culture; for example, a love of storytelling, music,
and dance.” 

Ireland is still breaking down barriers to become more diverse, so honest
conversations and information seem to be growing in the community, the anti- immigration protests seems to growing also, most of the movements connect to the right-wing movements.

The New York Times, wrote a piece explaining why the riots that took place in November 2023 were not surprised for those who had been watching the far right.

Indeed, INAR in 2022 addressed this issue “There is a lot that can be done to make individuals from minoritised backgrounds feel welcome and valued in Ireland. Our Reports of Racism in Ireland have shown disturbingly consist levels of Racism assault, discrimination and crime ” INAR spoke person says.

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