Ireland is multi-ethnic with a population made up from a broad range of different ethnic groups. The past decade has witnessed concern, debate and initiative to define what type of multi-ethnic society we want to build and to advance the development of this multi-ethnic society. This work was largely focused on an agenda of integration or of creating an integrated society. Economic crisis has however driven this work and debate off the political agenda and out of media attention.
Economic crisis has created a different context within which to establish what type of multi-ethnic society is desired and to advance the development of this society. International experience suggests that economic crisis hits migrants with particular severity. Economic crisis can be a moment when the role of the state in society is reduced and public services to minority ethnic groups in society are cut back.
Economic crisis can breed an inward looking culture within the majority ethnic group that is hostile to diversity. Economic crisis therefore poses particular challenges to the development of the kind of multi-ethnic society we wish to foster.
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland is concerned to establish an agenda for a multi-ethnic Ireland in a time of economic crisis. This concern is driven by the absence of political debate and initiative on this agenda. It is informed by the difficulties economic crisis is already posing to the place and participation of migrants in society many who have made Ireland their permanent home.
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland seeks to put forward an agenda that defines the type of society that should emerge out of this economic crisis. This must also be an agenda that provides the value base to shape policies and programmes to manage and respond to the economic crisis. This is an agenda with the twin objectives of justice and equality.
This discussion document sets out the need for an agenda of justice and equality for the kind of multi-ethnic society (section 2) we want to create. It examines global trends that support such an agenda and those that run counter to it (section 3). It explores the current situation for migrants from a justice perspective (section 4) and from an equality perspective (section 5). It points to the need for action on injustice and inequality experienced by migrants (section 6) and identifies some policy levers with the potential to advance an agenda of justice and equality for a multi-ethnic society (section 7).