Potentially-growing racism in Northern Ireland.

by Liam C. on October 27, 2014 - 10:22pm

Henry Mcdonald’s article: “Racism in Northern Ireland: ‘They called our children monkeys’” discusses a mixed-race couple’s struggle to integrate themselves into a catholic, working-class area near Belfast, and the potential reasons for why a fairly large and seemingly-growing amount of people express such a xenophobic attitude towards immigrants in their community. The couple as well as their kids suffered racism and bigotry from their neighbors and classmates over the 6 years they’ve lived there, ranging from hostile and racist comments on social networks and even face-to-face, to vandalism and torment on their front step; all of this becoming gradually worse since they arrived in the area. Mohammed Samaana, a Palestinian nurse, was even subject to verbal abuse from his own clients, as well as an incident where he was attacked and felt that his life was at risk. He also feels that since his arrival in Northern Ireland, the racism towards him has done nothing but grow. After giving these examples, the author presents Jonathan Tongue’s opinion on why racism appears to be growing in Northern Ireland: the reason being that the phenomena is caused by what he calls “post-troubles paranoia”, a set of mind where people still haven’t accustomed to immigration due to a previously strong sense of identity (Protestantism/Loyalist) and opposition towards their rivals (Catholics/Unionists) that they, only recently, have begun to lose (reference here to the recent struggles for power between Northern Ireland loyalists and unionists in regards to whether they should remain a part of the United Kingdom or not, due to unfair representation and discrimination between both groups).

I will remain agnostic on the point where racism is growing in Northern Ireland, since the author didn’t provide any sources except for the opinion of a few individuals. However, I chose this article because I found the reason behind the racism, presented by Jonathan Tongue, to be quite valid. Keep in mind that the population on the island is extremely homogeneous,and that the conflicts between loyalist and unionist Irelanders are quite recent (the most recent sparking in the late 1960’s and ending around 1998). Hence, many individuals who participated in the violence are still alive today and raising kids of their own (who no doubt inherit some of their parents' values of non-acceptance). Accompanied by the media’s perpetuation of terrorism, fear and mistrust, I’m not surprised at all that there are a bunch of confused and ignorant kids out there who are afraid to accept individuals of a different cultural background.