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Q1: Should the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (2008/09) appear in the references?

Q2: The following reference was not referred to in the text: Lo 2009?



Tackling Racism in Northern Ireland:


‘The Race Hate Capital of Europe’



School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, University of Ulster, Shore Road, 4

Jordanstown, BT 37 OQB 5

email: cg.knox@ulster.ac.uk 6

Abstract 7

Northern Ireland has been dubbed by the media as the ‘race hate capital of Europe’ and 8

attracted recent international criticism after one hundred Roma families were forced to flee 9

their homes following racist attacks. This paper examines the problem of racism in Northern 10

Ireland from a number of perspectives. First, it considers the effectiveness of the Government’s 11

response to racism against itsRacial Equality Strategy 200510 using performance criteria 12

designed to track the implementation of the strategy. Second, it considers and empirically tests 13

the assertion in the literature that sectarianism shapes the way in which racism is reproduced 14

and experienced. Third, it explores racism at the level of the individual – which factors influence 15

people in Northern Ireland to exhibit racist behaviour. Finally, the paper considers the likely 16

policy implications of the research findings in the context of devolved government where 17

addressing racism is part of a wider political imbroglio which has gridlocked decision-making 18

within the power-sharing Executive of Northern Ireland.


Introduction and background 20

Martin McGuinness, Sinn F´ein’s deputy First Minister in the power-sharing 21

Executive in Northern Ireland, recently argued that Ireland is affected by three 22

great evils: sectarianism, racism and partitionism. While the issue of partitionism 23

is central to Sinn F´ein’s political ideology, it is racism in Northern Ireland 24

which has from2003/04attracted censorious media attention both locally and 25

internationally. At that time there were vicious attacks against the Chinese 26

community living in Belfast, the largest settled minority ethnic group. This 27

earned Northern Ireland the unenviable title of ‘race hate capital of Europe’, a 28

place which had no appeal for migrants during the years of political turmoil but 29

now appears unable to cope with multiculturalism, a situation reminiscent of 30

Britain in the1950s (Chrisafis,2004:1). Police investigating these racist attacks 31

linked them to two paramilitary groups: the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) 32

and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).


The absence of far-right politics in Northern Ireland offered a mistaken 34

perception that migrants could expect a tolerant and welcoming society. Such 35

was the conviction that racism did not present as a problem, that the legislative 36

framework equivalent to the1976Race Relations Act in Britain was not introduced 37


into Northern Ireland until the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order1997, 38

over20years later. Rolston (2004), however, claims that loyalists have had a long- 39

standing, on-off relationship with facist groups in Britain for over three decades, 40

and predicted the rise in racism in Northern Ireland. He argued 41

it would be wrong to believe that there were parts of Northern Ireland that are not and never 42

could be guilty of racism. . .to paraphrase Brecht, racism is a bitch in heat at the moment [in 43

2004] and there’s no telling how large the litter will be. (Rolston,2004:6) 44

In a society characterised by sectarianism, accompanying violence and mistrust 45

of ‘the other’, racism became a ‘natural’ part of the whole ambit of hate crime 46

to which Northern Ireland is well-accustomed. Overt racism reared its ugly head 47

once again in April2009, when Northern Ireland and Polish football fans clashed 48

in Belfast before a World Cup qualifying match. The incident spilled over into 49

racist attacks against Polish residents, and some50 people fled the staunchly 50

loyalist Village area of south Belfast.


In an unrelated incident soon after, one hundred Roma families were forced 52

to take shelter in a church hall, evacuating their homes in the Lisburn Road area of 53

south Belfast after they were targeted by racists. The incident made international 54

news and underscored Northern Ireland’s reputation as intolerant and a centre of 55

race hate crime. The scale of this hate crime against the Roma community and the 56

media coverage which it attracted with families fleeing their homes, belongings 57

in hand, prompted high-profile Childline founder, Esther Rantzen, to say of 58

Northern Ireland ‘they are addicted to hatred, they are addicted to violence as 59

if it gives them some kind of exhilaration. . .You see a lot of prejudice in the 60

rest of the UK but why turn it into violence? Maybe people miss the old days of 61

the Troubles’ (BBC Question Time,18June2009). The Anti Racism Network in 62

Northern Ireland were angry about the attacks on the Roma families, claiming the 63

families had been subjected to harassment for some months and had not received 64

adequate protection. They also accused local politicians of deliberately blaming 65

immigrants for the lack of jobs and resources caused by the global recession.


The country’s only minority ethnic elected representative, Alliance Party MLA, 67

Anna Lo, argued in a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly that ‘in order to 68

eliminate racism, we must also tackle sectarianism – the twin evils of prejudice’.


It is against this background that we attempt to examine three key questions:

70 71

• What has been the Government’s response in seeking to tackle increased 72



• Using the Government’s own performance criteria, how effective has their 74

approach been so far?


• What factors influence racist attitudes among people in Northern Ireland?



We begin with an overview of previous research on racism in Northern 77



The literature 79

The UK social policy literature, according to Craig (2007), has neglected the 80

issue of ‘race’ both as political practice and academic pursuit. He finds this a 81

striking omission because social policy as a discipline is concerned variously with 82

citizenship rights, welfare, equality, poverty alleviation and social engineering.


Craig offers evidence to illustrate that the British state is only marginally 84

concerned with the welfare of minorities. He listed: continuing discrimination 85

against minorities, the failure of social welfare to maintain adequate incomes, 86

residential segregation of minorities and evidence of structural racism and 87

discrimination in education and health services. Craig (2007:620) concludes 88

that despite a number of ‘community relations’ initiatives and race relations 89

legislative interventions that ‘racism persists in all welfare sectors’.


The most obvious point of comparison for Northern Ireland within the wider 91

UK literature is on the theme of community cohesion. The racial disturbances in 92

Oldham, Burnley and Bradford in May2001and subsequent investigations found 93

people living ethnically segregated lives. As a response, policy interventions were 94

aimed at strengthening cohesion, the new framework for British government 95

policy on race relations (Cantle,2005). The subsequent work of Paul Thomas 96

(2007), who examined how community cohesion is operationalised by youth 97

workers in Oldham, provides evidence of the intervention in practice. Although 98

community cohesion has been criticised (Kundnani, 2002) as an attack on 99

multi-culturalism and a throw-back to assimilation policies (Backet al.,2002; 100

Schuster and Solomos,2004), Thomas is positive about the potential offered by 101

meaningful direct contact among people of different ethnic backgrounds. The 102

interesting comparison with Northern Ireland is that ‘meaningful contact’ has 103

been the underpinning rationale for much of the community relations work 104

addressing religious segregation in the parallel lives of Catholics and Protestants 105

from the1980s onwards. Hence, a plethora of policy interventions in Northern 106

Ireland have been about increasing interaction, integration, shared space and 107

shared values, culminating in the policy documentA Shared Future(OFMDFM, 108

2005a). The parallel in Great Britain was Cantle’s idea of a shared vision 109

around a common set of values which could be homogenising for the different 110

communities. This approach has also informed policies in Northern Ireland 111

aimed at tackling racism as evidenced by the links between the government 112

‘good relations’ and ‘racial equality’ strategies.


Northern Ireland, understandably, is replete with literature that analyses its 114

protracted conflict and constitutional settlement. Such scholarship has crowded 115

out, to some extent, the academic analysis of the insidious problem of racism.



This is the starting point for a review of the literature on racism in Northern 117

Ireland, which could broadly be categorised under four key themes: a denial 118

of the problem, evidence of institutional racism, racism incidents and crime 119

and, finally, suggested links between sectarianism and racism. We structure the 120

reporting of the research under these broad headings.


Denial of the problem 122

Hainsworth (1998: 1) drew attention to the whole issue of racism in a 123

collection of research, the aim of which was to counter the suggestion ‘that racism 124

is not a problem in Northern Ireland’. He argued that one of the consequences of 125

the conflict has been ‘the tendency to neglect, ignore or minimise ethnic minority 126

problems, such as individual or institutional racism, as the preoccupation 127

with traditional socio-political matters has left scant room for other agendas’


(Hainsworth,1998:3). In the same collection, McVeigh also contended that there 129

was an overt denial that racism existed in Northern Ireland because there were 130

no black people, yet argued that minority ethnic people experienced systematic 131

racism: ‘it is not the absence of racism but rather the relative absence of discussion 132

of racism which makes Ireland different from most European countries’ (1998: 133

14). McVeigh goes on to suggest that, because sectarianism pervades Northern 134

Ireland, it also structures the way in which racism is reproduced and experienced.


He concluded:


when we look at the ways in which social relations between the minority and majority ethnic 137

communities in Northern Ireland have become racialised, it becomes clear that racism is 138

structured by sectarianism as a dominating feature. . .In other words, racism in Northern 139

Ireland has a certain specificity. (McVeigh,1998:31) 140

Evidence of institutional racism 141

Mann-Kler (1997) conducted action research using39focus groups to capture 142

the experiences of minority ethnic groups using public services in Northern 143

Ireland such as health, social services, social security, education and training, 144

housing and policing, and found widespread evidence of institutional racism.


Findings included: minority ethnic groups had little knowledge of preventative 146

healthcare services, due to a lack of accessible information; racial harassment 147

of some families had been severe; and many women felt that the police did not 148

take racial attacks seriously. Mann-Kler contended that it has only been since the 149

ceasefires in1994that attention to racism began to emerge on the wider public 150

agenda. Connolly (2002), in an overview of available research evidence on race 151

and racism in Northern Ireland, found that although there is significant diversity 152

within the minority ethnic population, and hence differing needs, there were 153

several common problems that they faced. These problems included: difficulties 154

accessing existing services by those who speak little or no English, general lack 155


of knowledge and/or awareness of particular services offered, the need for more 156

staff training by service providers in relation to issues of ‘race’, the failure to 157

meet the basic cultural needs of minority ethnic people and significant levels of 158

racism and racist harassment experienced by minority ethnic people in Northern 159

Ireland (see also Bellet al.’s research,2004, on the social problems and personal 160

needs of people moving to Northern Ireland to take up employment).


Racism incidents/crimes 162

Jarman and Monaghan (2003) report on the scale and nature of racial 163

harassment based on an analysis of racist incidents recorded by the police between 164

1996and2001. They noted that, although the number of recorded incidents was 165

relatively small, Northern Ireland had a high ratio of racist incidents for the size 166

of the minority ethnic population compared with England and Wales during 167

this period. Precise comparison between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is 168

difficult to make. Home Office police-recorded crime statistics for England and 169

Wales in2008/09show a total of34,231incidents involving racially/religiously 170

aggravated crime disaggregated by: inflicting grievous body harm (GBH), less 171

serious wounding, harassment/public, assault without injury, actual bodily harm 172

(ABH) or other injury (Home Office,2009). During2008/09, Northern Ireland 173

recorded1,788sectarian and racist crimes in2008/09(PSNI statistics). Taking into 174

account population size, England and Wales had0.63and Northern Ireland1.00 175

hate crimes per1,000population, respectively. The Republic of Ireland does not 176

record hate crime; figures are subsumed under wider categories such as assaults, 177

harassment and related offences. The most numerous forms of racist harassment 178

in Northern Ireland were abuse and attacks on property, but about one-quarter 179

of the incidents involved a form of physical assault. Almost half the incidents 180

occurred in Belfast, most of which were recorded in Protestant working-class 181



Empirical findings from a detailed study of the incidence of racial crime in 183

the London Borough of Newham indicated significantly higher rates where there 184

was a large white majority and smaller groups of other ethnicities (Brimicombe 185

et al.,2001). Given the higher per capita influx of migrant workers to Northern 186

Ireland than other parts of the UK (discussed later), the ethnic mix could well 187

be important in understanding the level of racism in loyalist areas. Jarman 188

(2003) also examined the relationship between racist harassment and children 189

and young people by considering evidence from police records of cases of such 190

abuse and associated violence. He found that young people are more likely 191

to be subjected to physical assault as part of any harassment, but, equally, 192

young people were also significant perpetrators of racism and racist harassment.


Jarman concluded ‘the stereotypical perpetrator of racist harassment in Northern 194

Ireland is a young white male over the age of 16 acting in consort with 195

other young white males’ (2003:138). An interesting comparison here is with 196


a Home Office study which looked at the perpetrators of racial harassment 197

and violence in two London boroughs and found that: young children, youths, 198

adults and older people, including pensioners (male and female in all groups) 199

were involved. Their views towards minority ethnic groups were shared by the 200

wider communities to which they belonged. Perpetrators saw this as legitimising 201

their actions (Sibbitt,1997). Rayet al.’s study (2004:364) on the perpetrators of 202

racist violence in Greater Manchester also found that when ‘inherited meanings 203

of territory and neighbourhood become factured and uncertain’, there is an 204

unacknowledged shame which can be transformed into rage against minority 205

ethnic communities. In this case English communities had once shared experience 206

of the manufacturing industry; territoriality in Northern Ireland is quite different 207

and relates to single-identity communities now seen by perpetrators of racial 208

violence as under threat from ‘outsiders’ (ethnic minorities).


The link between sectarianism and racism 210

It was Brewer (1992) who first juxtaposed sectarianism and racism. He began 211

by offering a definition of sectarianism and compared it to the concept of racism.


He argued that there were points of convergence but also differences. Racism 213

and sectarianism converge in the sense that both involve ‘social stratification, 214

producing inequality in a structured manner rather than randomly’ and there 215

are similarities in the way in which they are experienced ‘at the level of ideas, 216

individual action and social structure’. The key difference is that ‘race’ is a much 217

more visible and deterministic marker than ‘sect’ and overlaps more completely 218

with other important social boundaries such as class’ – sect is more ambiguous, 219

a sub-type of ethnic stratification, whereas religion is one source of ethnic 220

differentiation. As a result, Brewer contended that ‘sect’ has better explanatory 221

power ‘to account for patterns of stratification and life chances that occur under 222

its name’ (Brewer,1992:353).


McVeigh and Rolston argue that sectarianism is a form of racism rooted in 224

the process of British imperialism in Ireland, and sectarianism can be directly 225

attributed to ‘the nature of the state rather than the politics it contains’ (2007: 226

7). Sectarianism, they contend, prevailed during the Stormont era of Unionist 227

majority rule (1920–72), continued during direct rule by the British Government, 228

is still evident in the post-Good Friday Northern Ireland and is inadequately 229

addressed through a ‘good relations’ model which seeks to conjoin racism and 230

sectarianism. The Good Friday Agreement, they claim, ‘helped create the context 231

in which new levels of racism were to flourish’. A peaceful Northern Ireland and, 232

in turn, economic growth attracted migrant workers who located in less crowded 233

loyalist working-class areas, so ‘post-Good Friday Agreement, new communities 234

of colour found themselves situated in the midst of this volatile situation and 235

became key targets for loyalist rage’ and, as a result, racism became a ‘close ally 236

of sectarianism’ (McVeigh and Rolston, 2007:12). The researchers argue that 237


explanations for the rise in racism have included ‘the facile logic that there is a 238

finite amount of hate in Northern Ireland and now, given the dying throes of 239

sectarianism in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement, racism has increased’.


They challenge what they see as the errors in this assumption:


For a start, people are perfectly capable of being both sectarian and racist. Moreover, as the 242

concentration of racist attacks in loyalist areas reveals, being sectarian is an advantage in being 243

racist. But the state’s approach to racism fails to name the problem, avoiding the obvious and 244

problematic correlation between loyalism and racism to focus on the problem being that of two 245

generic camps: ‘them’ and ‘us’. (McVeigh and Rolston,2007:13) 246

The link between sectarianism and racism is also recognised at the European 247

level. For example, the European Union adopted two directives (2000/43/EC and 248

2000/78/EC) prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of racial 249

or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. The 250

Commission has since then set out an overarching strategy for the positive and 251

active promotion of non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all. In the 252

context of Northern Ireland the link between sectarianism and racism and the 253

policy instruments used to address both is made clear by government when it 254

stated that the 255

Policy and Strategic Framework for Good Relations aims to eliminate both racism and 256

sectarianism. . .the policies and mechanisms being put in place to implement good relations 257

are not just about the scourge of sectarianism. They apply equally to tackling racism and 258

promoting good race relations. (OFMDFM,2005b:10) 259

This joint approach is justified by government on the basis that the common goal 260

is to create a shared society defined by a culture of tolerance, whether on racial or 261

religious grounds, characterised by equity, respect for diversity and recognition 262

of mutual interdependence. Hence, there are common policy instruments to 263

tackle racism and sectarianism: legal protection, policies and practices aimed at 264

mainstreaming the fight against racism and sectarianism, acting in partnership 265

with civil society to tackle the underlying causes and education and awareness 266

raising to encourage human rights education in the school curriculum and higher 267

education institutions.


There are two things which come out of this review of the literature. First, is 269

the problem, as McVeigh and Rolston contend, of ‘an obvious and problematic 270

correlation between loyalism and racism’? They produce no empirical evidence 271

of this. Second, existing research appears to focus on institutional racism and a 272

gap exists in our understanding as to what motivates or influences people in their 273

racist attitudes and behaviour to earn Northern Ireland this media sobriquet, the 274

‘race hate capital of Europe’.


Connolly and Khaoury (2008:207–8) confirm that much of the research to 276

date has concentrated on institutional racism in Northern Ireland, and, while 277

they acknowledge that this has been important in drawing attention to the 278


structural and routine nature of racial discrimination, there has been too much 279

emphasis on this as a way of conceptualising the problem. They suggest the need 280

‘to begin naming and interrogating whiteness. . .to address racism at its source’


and highlight different approaches taken by nationalist and unionist politicians, 282

leaders of loyalism and republicanism in their responses to race issues in Northern 283

Ireland, calling for research in this area. A recent example is where a Democratic 284

Unionist Party Member of the Legislative Assembly in a debate in the Northern 285

Ireland Assembly, demanded local jobs for local people:


We must face reality. As a result of the recession, a number of migrant workers have returned 287

to their own countries. A practical and sensitive approach must be taken to calls for jobs to be 288

retained for our own local workers. Although we are aware of the immense contribution that 289

migrant workers make, nevertheless, in the middle of a recession and in the face of increased 290

unemployment, we must get our priorities right in securing employment for our local people.


(Buchanan,2009:35) 292

The comparative example here is the debate in Great Britain that racialised 293

tensions are fuelled by competition for scarce resources. Denchet al.(2006) exam- 294

ined the hostility directed towards Bangladeshis by white East Enders in London.


Initially, tensions emerged over competition for work. While this remains an issue, 296

increasingly it has been replaced by competition between the communities over 297

access to welfare support and public services, including education and housing.


Denchet al.explain this as follows: ‘the state reception of new comers has ridden 299

over the existing local community’s assumptions about their ownership of public 300

resources’ which ‘precipitated a loss of confidence in the fairness of British social 301

democracy’ (2006:229). Hence, minority ethnic groups compete for opportuni- 302

ties and social welfare on equal terms with white Britons without ‘appearing to 303

have earned their rights’ to do so. In other words, a stable democracy demands 304

a ‘fair balance between what citizens put into society and what they get out of it’


(Denchet al.,2006:224). The researchers contend that middle-class liberals have 306

‘promoted a swathe of political measures and institutions which consolidate the 307

rights of minorities while multiplying the sanctions against indigenous whites 308

who object to this’ (Denchet al.,2006:6). In short, the increased emphasis on 309

people’s rights has been at the expense of their responsibilities.


Although Denchet al.’s work has been criticised by Moore (2008:350) as 311

‘lacking in intellectual coherence’ and being conceptually confusing, issues raised 312

in their work resonate in the Northern Ireland context. For example, there is a 313

protracted debate about the introduction of a Bill of Rights in Northern Ireland, 314

which grapples with tensions between rights and responsibilities. Specifically, 315

there are recommendations to strengthen the right to equality and prohibition 316

of discrimination for national minorities, supplementary to the Human Rights 317

Act1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights (Northern Ireland 318

Human Rights Commission,2008:33). Against this backdrop, Northern Ireland 319

politicians claiming protection for local jobs can be accused of racism or 320


xenophobia. These comments have been prompted by the economic downturn.


Until recently it was recognised that migrant workers filled skills gaps in specific 322

sectors of the Northern Ireland economy (health, food processing, construction, 323

hospitality and retail). Have attitudes to migrant workers changed as threats to 324

‘local’ jobs increase? Can the rise in racist incidents and crimes be explained (in 325

part) by competition for jobs?


Before addressing the substantive issues raised by existing research, we 327

consider the size of the minority ethnic community in Northern Ireland, what 328

the Government’s existing policies are to tackle racism and how they have 329

performed to date.


The policy context 331

The minor ethnic population 332

The2001Northern Ireland Census quantified the size of the settled minority 333

ethnic communities as14,279, or0.8per cent of the total population (1.68million 334

at that time). This figure comprised: Chinese as the largest minority ethnic group 335

(4,100), South Asians (2,500), Irish Travellers (1,700) and African Caribbeans 336

(1,100) (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency,2005). The census statis- 337

tics are now dated, and some researchers estimate that the current figure could 338

be as high as45,000(Gallagher,2007). Transient populations are more difficult 339

to estimate. The number of people who came to live in Northern Ireland was 340

approximately:25,000in2005,31,000in2006,32,000in2007and27,000in2008, 341

around5per cent of the Northern Ireland workforce (Northern Ireland Statistics 342

and Research Agency,2009). This represents a marked increase in international 343

inflows and is related to the enlargement of the European Union in May2004, 344

when people from countries in Central and Eastern Europe (the so-called A8 345

countries) were allowed to come and work in the United Kingdom and Ireland.


One measure of the influx of migrant workers is the Worker Registration 347

Scheme (WRS) managed by the UK Border Agency on behalf of the Home 348

Office. The scheme is used to register migrant workers from the A8countries.


Border Agency statistics show between1May2004and31March2009, a total 350

of949,000people registered with the WRS in the United Kingdom. Of these, 351

36,500(or4per cent of the UK total) registered to work in Northern Ireland.


In contrast, the Northern Ireland population makes up around3per cent of the 353

UK population, thus indicating the scale of A8migration to Northern Ireland.


Table1shows that between May2004and March2009, Northern Ireland had 355

about one-third more migrant workers registering on a per capita basis than the 356

rest of the United Kingdom, with about21 WRS registrations for every1,000 357

persons in Northern Ireland compared to nearly16WRS registrations for every 358

1,000persons in the UK as a whole (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research 359

Agency,2009:10). Overall, the statistics indicate an increasing number of settled 360


TABLE1. WRS registrations per1,000population (May2004–March2009)

WRS registrations WRS registrations

(May2004–March 2007population per1,000

Country 2009) estimate population

England 808,500 51,092,000 15.8

Scotland 79,500 5,144,000 15.4

Wales 25,000 2,980,000 8.3

Northern Ireland 36,500 1,759,000 20.8

United Kingdom 949,000 60,975,000 15.6

Source:Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (2009).

minority ethnic communities in Northern Ireland and a relatively large influx of 361

migrant workers from2004onwards.


Government policy 363

In July2005, the (direct rule) Government launched its policy documentA 364

Racial Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland2005–10, which aimed: to tackle racial 365

inequalities in Northern Ireland and to open up opportunity for all, to eradicate 366

racism and hate crime and, together withA Shared Future, to initiate actions to 367

promote good race relations (OFMDFM,2005b:5; Hughes,2008). The strategy 368

defined racism to include: racist ideologies, prejudiced attitudes, discriminatory 369

behaviour, structural arrangements and institutionalised practices resulting in 370

racial inequality. The race strategy was underpinned by, and intended to com- 371

plement, the existing and developing legislative framework including the Race 372

Relations (Northern Ireland) Order1997and statutory duties set out in Section75 373

of the Northern Ireland Act1998. The Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 374

1997 made it unlawful to discriminate, either directly or indirectly, on racial 375

grounds in the areas of: employment and training; education; the provision of 376

goods, facilities or services; and the disposal and management of premises and 377

advertisements. The Northern Ireland Act1998(section75) requires departments 378

and other public authorities in carrying out their functions to have ‘due regardto 379

the need to promote equality of opportunity between persons of different racial 380

group’. It also requires them to ‘have regardto the desirability of promoting good 381

relations’ between persons of different racial group. There is an acknowledgement 382

in the strategy that government cannot, by itself, eradicate racism but would 383

play its part alongside other stakeholders in tackling this insidious problem.


To achieve the aims as outlined in the Racial Equality Strategy, a follow-on 385

implementation plan was launched in March2006, which committed government 386

departments and their agencies to a wide range of actions to tackle racism and 387

racial inequalities. The Government’s response to racism, according to the First 388


Minister, was robust and well-funded. The problem has been over-hyped by the 389

media and rested with a tiny minority of racist people (Robinson,2009:288).


Effectiveness of Racial Equality Strategy?


Does the government’s defence of its record on tackling racism stand up to 392

scrutiny? We consider how the government has performed against its ownRacial 393

Equality Strategy. The analysis is structured in the following way:


• Using baseline indicators from the Office of First Minister and deputy First 395

Minister’sShared Future and Racial Equality Strategy Baseline Report(2007), 396

we track trends in racism over time. In other words, if the government 397

was reporting progress in tackling racism in Northern Ireland using itsown 398

indicators, how effective has it been?


• We consider the social distance scale, an alternative to the government’s 400

measures above, as a means of capturing racism in a one-dimensional way.


This social distance measure of racism is then used to investigate McVeigh and 402

Rolston’s (2007) assertion in the literature that sectarianism may structure 403

how racism is produced and reproduced. The link between sectarianism and 404

racism is therefore empirically tested.


• Finally, using the most recent Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey data 406

(2008/09) , we attempt to model the influences on people’s racist attitudes. Q1 407

In other words, which factors are likely to impact on whether someone in 408

Northern Ireland is racist? We do this using multi-variate binary logistic 409

regression and arrive at a combination of factors that predict (within limits) 410

racist attitudes in Northern Ireland.


We begin by assessing government’s performance in tackling racism. The 412

Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) developed a 413

number of thematic priorities to improve good relations in Northern Ireland and 414

linked these to a set of measurable outcomes. These were part of the outworking of 415

the Government’sShared FutureandRacial Equalitystrategies. The first priority 416

outcome established by OFMDFM is that: ‘Northern Ireland society is free from 417

racism, sectarianism and prejudice’ (Office of the First Minister and deputy First 418

Minister and Northern Ireland Statistics Agency,2007:8).


Baseline indicators were established as a way of quantitatively tracking racism 420

trends in Northern Ireland. Thespecificracism indicators in the OFMDFM report 421

are set out in Table 2. We have collated current information on eachof these 422

indicators to provide a rounded picture on the effectiveness of the government’s 423

strategy since its inception to tackle racism.


Indicator 1: Number of racial incidents and crimes recorded 425

The data on racist incidents and crimes have been collected from the Police Service 426

of Northern Ireland (PSNI) annual crime statistics beginning with baseline year 427


TABLE2. Base line indicators – racism measures

General Year of

Baseline historic Data baseline

Indicators figures trend source data

No1: Number of racial incidents and crimes recorded

Racial incidents= 936Racial crimes=746

Incidents – up by15%;

Crimes – up by18% (since 2004/05)

PSNI 2005/06

No.2: Percentage of people who believe there is more racial prejudice than there was5years ago

68% Up from12% in 1994

Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey Data (1994)


No.3: Percentage of people who believe there will be more racial prejudice in5years time

43% Up from11% in 1994

Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey Data (1994)


No.4: Percentage of people who believe people from a minority ethnic community are less respected than they once were

49% n/a Northern

Ireland Life and Times Survey Data


No.5: Percentage of people who are prejudiced against a minority ethnic community

‘Very prejudiced’

=1%; ‘A little prejudiced’= 24%


‘Very’=no change; ‘A little’=up from10%

Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey Data (1994)


Source:Extracted from: Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and Northern Ireland Statistics Agency (2007)A Shared Future and Racial Equality Strategy: Good Relations Indicators Baseline Report.

2004/05. The PSNI define a racial incident as any incident, which may or may 428

not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other 429

person as being motivated by prejudice or hate. In addition, we collected data on 430

sectarian incidents and crimes over the same period to provide some basis for 431

comparison. These data are presented in Figure1. The data show a trend increase 432

over the five-year period in racial incidents/crimes and corresponding decrease 433

in sectarian incidents/crimes. In short, as sectarian crimes have decreased, racist 434

incidents have increased.


It should, however, be noted that data on the number of racial incidents/


crimes must be set within a context of an active campaign by the PSNI 437

to encourage reporting. Minority ethnic groups claimed that they had little 438

confidence in reporting hate crime to the police in an enquiry conducted by the 439

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. This resulted in a recommendation that the 440




1056 1017




757 771

500 700 900 1100 1300 1500 1700

2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09

Sectarian crimes Racist crimes Linear (Sectarian crimes) Linear (Racist crimes)

Number of sectarian and racist incidents/crimes: trend data1

9 0 / 8 0 0 2 8 0 / 7 0 0 2 7 0 / 6 0 0 2 6 0 / 5 0 0 2 5 0 / 4 0 0 2 Total number of sectarian incidents

n/a 1,701 1,695 1,584 1,595

Total number of sectarian crimes

n/a 1,470 1,217 1,056 1,017

Total number of racist incidents

813 936 1,047 976 990

Total number of racist crimes

634 746 861 757 771

Figure1. Racism and sectarian trends

Note:1Recorded racist crimes (sometimes referred to as notifiable offences) are those which are deemed to be indictable or triable-either-way. In the same way as incidents are identified as having a hate motivation, a crime will be recorded as having the relevant hate motivation where the victim or any other person perceives it as such. Not all incidents will result in the recording of a crime. Crimes with hate motivations are classified according to the Home Office counting rules.

Source:Collated from PSNI annual crime statistics reports; available at: www.psni.police.uk/


police work closely with other statutory agencies and victim support groups to 441

‘improve general confidence in the reporting system, address reasons for under- 442

reporting and unwillingness to prosecute’ (House of Commons, Northern Ireland 443

Affairs Committee,2004:49). The PSNI published a policy directive in2006, 444

‘Police Response to Hate Incidents’, in which they acknowledged the reasons for 445

under-reporting and put in place a series of measures to address this problem. The 446

measures included: improved recording, response and investigation procedures 447

on hate crime incidents; having specialist officers (Minority Liaison Officers) 448

available in every police district; support for victims; partnership working with 449

statutory and non-statutory partners to address the problem; and training for 450

officers in the implementation of the directive. The outworking of this policy can 451

be seen in high-profile publicity campaigns launched by the PSNI and aimed at 452


68 70


53 43




20 40 60 80

2005 2006 2007 2008


Prejudice now Prejudice in the future

Linear (Prejudice now) Linear (Prejudice in the future) Racial prejudice now and in five years time: data


(n = 1,200) 2006

(n = 1,230) 2007

(n = 1,179) 2008 (n = 1,216) More prejudice now than 5

years ago

68% 70% 63% 53%

There will be more prejudice in 5 years time

43% 54% 41% 31%

Figure2. Prejudice trends

Source:Calculated from Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey data20052008/09.

encouraging the reporting and awareness of hate crimes and incidents under the 453

advertising banner ‘nobody deserves it and nobody deserves to get away with it’.


The remaining indicators (nos. 2–5 in Table 2) for measuring racism 455

are attitudinal data collected via an annual probability survey of inhabitants 456

across Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Life and Times Surveys gather 457

information through face-to-face interviews with about1,200adults aged18years 458

or over. The samples for the annual surveys consist of a systematic random sample 459

of addresses selected from the government’s Land and Property Services Agency 460

list of private addresses.1 461

Data have therefore been extracted from the yearly surveys to provide an 462

overview of racism in Northern Ireland as defined by OFMDFM indicators. The 463

first two indicators we consider here relate to perceptions of racism now and in 464

five years time.


Indicator 2: Percentage of people who believe there is more racial prejudice 466

than there was five years ago 467

Indicator 3: Percentage of people who believe there will be more racial prejudice 468

in five years time 469

The results of these two indicators are set out in Figure2, where the trend lines 470

indicate a reduction in perceptions of prejudice: in other words, people believe 471




42 44

30 40 50 60

2005 2006 2007 2008


Respect for ethnic minorities Linear (Respect for ethnic minorities) Respect for minority ethnic communities: data


(n = 1,200) 2006

(n = 1,230) 2007

(n = 1,179) 2008 (n = 1,216) Less well respected 49% 53% 42% 44%

Figure3. Respect for ethnic minorities

Source:Calculated from Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey data20052008/09.

there is less prejudice now than previously and this trend will continue into the 472



Indicator 4: Percentage of people who believe people from a minority ethnic 474

community are less respected than they once were 475

The results are set out in Figure3. The data show the percentage of people who 476

‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ that minority ethnic communities are less respected 477

in Northern Ireland than they once were. The trend would seem to indicate 478

a growing acceptance of, and respect for, minority ethnic groups, although it 479

should be borne in mind that these data do not include the recent high-profile 480

racist incidents in2009. 481

Indicator 5: Percentage of people who are prejudiced against a minority ethnic 482

community 483

The results are shown in Figure4and indicate an increased trend in self-reported 484



So, what do these results, using measures devised by OFMDFM, tell us 486

about the priority theme of government that ‘Northern Ireland is free from 487

racism and prejudice’? Is the government’sRacial Equality Strategysuccessful, 488

based on its own indicators of effectiveness? If the above indicators constitute a 489

‘shopping basket’ of composite measures devised by government to capture the 490


25 24



20 30 40 50

2005 2006 2007 2008


How prejudiced? Linear (How prejudiced?) How prejudiced are you (data)?


(n = 1,200) 2006

(n = 1,230) 2007

(n = 1,179) 2008 (n =1,216)

Very prejudiced 1% 1% 3% 2%

A little prejudiced 24% 23% 32% 30%

TOTAL 25% 24% 34% 32%

Figure4. How prejudiced are you?

Source:Calculated from Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey data20052008/09.

extent of racism and prejudice in Northern Ireland, then we can conclude the 491



• There is an upward trend in the number of reported racist incidents/crimes 493

and corresponding decrease in sectarian incidents/crimes officially recorded 494

by the PSNI.


• Respondents think that there is less racial prejudice now than five years ago, 496

and there will be less prejudice in five years time.


• The level of respect for minority ethnic communities has improved over the 498

last four years, although the very public events of2009are not reflected in 499

the data, and one suspects would significantly change people’s viewpoint on 500

this issue.


• Respondents considered themselves to be increasingly more prejudiced 502

against minority ethnic communities over time – a result which is somewhat 503

at odds with the finding (above) that racial prejudice at the macro level has 504

reduced over time and into the future (but, again, the data do not reflect the 505

events of2009).


In summary, the Government can take little solace from the implementation 507

of itsRacial Equality Strategy. Northern Ireland has some way to go before being 508

described as a country ‘free from racism and prejudice’ – the declared aim of the 509




The extent of racism 511

But are the Government’s measures of racism, as outlined above, a true indication 512

of the extent of racism in Northern Ireland? How valid and reliable, for example, 513

are the data from a question which asks people directly if they would describe 514

themselves as prejudiced (indicator5above)? Such a measure is more likely to 515

underestimate the extent of racism in Northern Ireland because respondents are 516

unwilling to admit to being prejudiced or racist, as this is a socially undesirable 517

viewpoint. Hence, this type of questioning is flawed and does not take into account 518

the many different kinds of racial prejudice that exist: from blatant forms, such 519

as name-calling, to more subtle racial prejudice that includes racist banter and 520

‘jokes’. Furthermore, respondents themselves may have different opinions about 521

what constitutes racism and therefore interpret the question differently.


A more reliable measure of racial prejudice can be found in questions 523

relating to social distance, although these are not without limitations and can also 524

underestimate levels of racial prejudice. Questions relating to social distance in 525

the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey are based on a variant of the Bogardus 526

(1925) social distance scale, which measures the willingness of respondents 527

to participate in social contact with specific groups of people. The scale is a 528

psychological test which uses a cumulative or Guttman scale to determine the 529

degree of closeness with members of other ethnic groups. The questions posed 530

in the2008/09Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey are as follows:


Would you accept people from other ethnic groups as:


Tourists in Northern Ireland?


A resident of Northern Ireland living and working here?


A resident in your local area?


A colleague?


A close friend?


A relative by marriage?


This type of questioning is cumulative in that if a respondent in the survey 539

accepts or agrees with one particular item, (s)he will also accept all previous 540

items. Hence, if a survey respondent accepts someone from another ethnic group 541

as a relative by marriage, (s)he is also likely to accept people from minority 542

ethnic groups as a close friend, colleague, resident in the local area and so on.


The simplicity of such a scale means that we can arrive at a one-dimensional 544

assessment of racial attitudes. Although the scale has been criticised as too simple 545

in that the social distance between intimate relationships may be quite different 546

than those with, for example, tourists in Northern Ireland, it is nonetheless an 547

effective way of probing the extent or degree of racial attitudes. In other words, 548

those respondents who would accept people from other ethnic groups as a relative 549

by marriage exhibit no social distance and therefore no prejudice. This is therefore 550


TABLE3. Social distance scale on prejudice (n=1,216)

Would you accept people from other ethnic groups as: Yes

Tourists in Northern Ireland? 98%

A resident of Northern Ireland living and working here? 91%

A resident in your local area? 89%

A colleague? 90%

A close friend? 80%

A relative by marriage? 76%

Source:Calculated from Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey data2008/09.

a one-dimensional measure that becomes useful in further analysis of racism in 551

Northern Ireland.


If we consider the results of2008/09Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey 553

on the above questions, they largely confirm the cumulative nature of the social 554

distance approach with respondents ‘pressed’ to discover the degree of social 555

distance they could accept (see Table 3). Respondents become less willing to 556

accept minority ethnic groups the closer the social distance, and hence accepting 557

someone from another ethnic group as ‘a relative by marriage’ is a more accurate 558

measure of racism than simply asking them ‘are you prejudiced’ (indicator5 559



Does sectarianism shape racism?


The theoretical literature suggests that racism is the new sectarianism in 562

Northern Ireland or that sectarianism may structure how racism is produced 563

and reproduced (McVeigh,1998). The literature also suggests that racism and 564

sectarianism are inter-related in that they both have similar roots and expression, 565

and sectarianism may lead to less receptive attitudes towards minority ethnic 566

people. This theoretical contention has not been tested empirically. In an 567

effort to explore the relationship between these two variables (sectarianism and 568

racism), the following questions from the2008/09Northern Ireland Life and 569

Times Survey data set were used as proxy measures of sectarianism and racism, 570



(a) Measuring sectarianism:


Would you mind if a close relative were to marry someone of a different religion?


According to Connolly and Keenan (2000:29), unwillingness to accept those from 574

the other religion, be it Catholic or Protestant, as friends, colleagues or as relatives 575

by marriage ‘could be loosely termed as sectarianism’.



TABLE4. Sectarianism by racism (n=1,185)

Accept minority ethnic as a relative by marriage Marry someone of a

different religion YES NO Total

Would mind a lot Count 31 26 57

% within marry someone of a different religion

54.4% 45.6% 100.0%

% of total 2.6% 2.2% 4.8%

Would mind a little Count 99 86 185

% within marry someone of a different religion

53.5% 46.5% 100.0%

% of total 8.4% 7.3% 15.6%

Would not mind Count 774 169 943

% within marry someone of a different religion

82.1% 17.9% 100.0%

% of total 65.3% 14.3% 79.6%

Total Count 904 281 1,185

% of total 76.3% 23.7% 100.0%

(b) Measuring racism:


The variable which we use as a proxy for prejudice or racism is the social distance 578

measure discussed above:


Would you be willing to accept people from other minority ethnic groups as a 580

relative by way of marrying a close member of your family?


We cross-tabulate these two variables using data from the Northern Ireland 582

Life and Times Social Attitudes2008/09to find if there is an association between 583

sectarian and racist attitudes. The results are presented in Tables4and5. 584

Considering the results in Table4we can see that:


• 82per cent of those who ‘would not mind’ marrying someone from a different 586

religion would also accept a minority ethnic relative by marriage.


• Whereas only54per cent of those who ‘mind a lot’ or ‘mind a little’ marrying 588

someone from a different religion would also accept a minority ethnic relative 589

by marriage.


The results therefore tell us that there is a significant association (see Table5) 591

between people’s attitudes to marrying someone of a different religion and their 592

willingness to accept a member of the minority ethnic community as a close 593

family member. This highly significant result (χ2=85.64,p<0.001) indicates 594


TABLE5. Chi-square tests

Asymp. Sig.

Value df (2-sided)

Pearson chi-square 85.6371 2 0.000

Likelihood ratio 77.238 2 0.000

Linear-by-linear Association 73.666 1 0.000

N of valid cases 1,185

Notes:10cells (.0%) have expected count less than5. The minimum expected count is13.52.

Summary result:χ2=85.64,p<0.001.

Source:Calculated from Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey data2008/09.

that there is an association between sectarian and racist attitudes which people 595

in Northern Ireland hold: those with sectarian views are more likely to be racist.


What influences racism?


To further understand which factors influence or predict racist attitudes in 598

Northern Ireland, we conducted a binary logistic regression. The purpose of 599

this analysis is to assess the impact of a set of selected predictors on a dependent 600

variable: racist attitudes. In other words, we are interested in finding out which 601

variables predict the likelihood of people in Northern Ireland being racist. Binary 602

logistic regression allows us to test the predictive ability of a set of variables while 603

controlling for the effects of other predictors in the model. Using data from the 604

2008/09Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, we therefore select a categorical 605

dichotomous variable which is a proxy measure of racism and a set of predictor 606



The social distance variable, discussed above, in relation to whether someone 608

would be prepared to accept a member of the minority ethnic community as a 609

relative by marriage, appears to be a good proxy for measuring racism. We 610

therefore use this measure as the dependent variable in the logistic regression 611

analysis. We also list those predictor variables which we think might influence 612

whether someone is racist. These are set out in Table6. 613

The results of the binary logistic regression analysis using the variables above 614

are set out in Table7. The omnibus tests of model coefficients show a highly 615

significant value (p<0.0005), and the Hosmer and Lemeshow test supports the 616

conclusion that the model is a good fit (chi-square value of12.23and p>0.05). In 617

other words, the variables included in the model, when combined, are significant 618

predictors of racism. The model summary statistics indicate that between21.7 619

per cent and31.7per cent of the variability in the dependent variable is explained 620

by this set of predictor variables. The Wald test shows that there are five variables 621

which contribute significantly (p<0.05) to the predictive ability of the model, 622

and the negative/positive B values allows us to establish the relative importance 623



Variable code Coding for

in NILTS Variable recoded binary

Variable 2008/09 or transformed logistic

types survey data Description of the variable in survey to: regression

Categorical dependent variable

MEGRELA Would you be willing to accept people from other ethnic minority groups as a relative by way of marrying a close relative of your family?


Predictor variable SMARRRLG Would you mind if a close relative were to marry someone of a different religion?

SECTARIAN Yes/No Predictor variable MIGWRK1 Do you agree that migrant workers are generally good for Northern

Ireland’s economy?


Predictor variable OUTOFNI Have you ever lived outside Northern Ireland for more than6months? ABROAD Yes/No Predictor variable MEGCONT Do you have regular direct contact with people from minority ethnic



Predictor variable RAGE Age of respondent RAGE Respondent’s age

Predictor variable RSEX Gender of the respondent GENDER Male or female

Predictor variable RELIGCAT Religion of respondent RELIGION Catholic or Protestant


TABLE 1 . WRS registrations per 1 , 000 population (May 2004 –March 2009 )
TABLE 2 . Base line indicators – racism measures
Figure 1 . Racism and sectarian trends
Figure 2 . Prejudice trends

Ақпарат көздері


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