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The Ethnic Demography of Ireland

  • Steve Garner
  • Chris Gilligan
Part of the International Handbooks of Population book series (IHOP, volume 4)

Abstract

The recent demography of Ireland has been dominated by contrasts, both with the rest of the world and within itself. Ireland became highly exceptional among the populations of Europe by the mid-nineteenth century and has remained so almost up to the end of the twentieth. Ireland’s remarkable example – North and South – has challenged any attempt to establish general rules for the demographic behaviour of modern industrial societies. The structure of this chapter will be in four sections. In section one, we will suggest a brief historical background up to the partition of Ireland into two political entities in 1921. Section two aims to provide an overview of emigration in terms of approximate figures and timings, and points to the massive impact of the Famine since the middle of the nineteenth century. We then look at each of the two political components of the island of Ireland; Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Section three addresses Northern Ireland, from its inception in 1921 to the present through three key periods; the 1920s (state formation); the 1960s and 1970s (the birth of the ‘Troubles’); and the 1990s (peace process), and the inward migration of the twenty-first century. The themes addressed are segregation, gerrymandering, discrimination, fertility rates/mortality rates, and emigration/immigration. The final section on the Republic of Ireland will be split into three parts: the first will focus on the ethnic distinctions between the dominant Catholic majority and its minorities; Protestants, Travellers, Jews, and the ongoing role of emigration in the nation’s demography. The second identifies the period 1996–2008 as crucial to the modern dynamics of ethnic demography, as it is then that the Republic becomes a nation of net immigration. The third part, traces the phenomenon up to the present, using a case study of the State’s attempts to use ethnic demography to redefine formal Irishness in the 2004 referendum on citizenship. We conclude by putting forward a framework for an alternative interpretation of Irish ethnic demography that acknowledges its complexity, beyond a bipolar and essentialising Catholic-Protestant dichotomy, and stressing the importance of nationalisms on the island.

Keywords

Work Permit Peace Process Peace Agreement Irish People Modern Industrial Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Policy and CriminologyOpen UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of the West of ScotlandPaisleyUK

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