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23 September 2014
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Citizenship 2000

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Programme 3 - Pluralism
 
Downloadable version of all teacher's notes
Comprehensive Resources for this Programme
This programme examines intolerance towards groups who are minorities. The issues are highlighted by the experience of individuals from the African, Traveller and Chinese communities in Northern Ireland.

The programme begins with some archive television pictures of unrest in Ulsterís very recent history. This simplistic and often inaccurate view of two warring tribes which we often receive from the media is criticised. The presence and treatment of smaller groups did not make headlines during "The Troubles" in which they too suffered - sometimes more than larger groups.

We then visit a peaceful Portadown where students from Drumcree College discuss the needs and concerns of various groups in Northern Ireland. Their discussion and reflections, in a town long associated with sectarian strife, form the backbone of the programme and provide a framework in which the three examinations are placed.

The discussionís facilitator is a Nigerian, Femi Olayisade, who works with the Multicultural Resource Centre in Belfast and who has been in Belfast for a number of years. His experience of life in Ireland with his wife and two children is the first we hear. Femiís culture places great importance on extended family relationships and he misses that in Belfast. He enjoys shopping at St. Georgeís Market because the gossip, bargaining and other interaction reminds him of home.

The second group we encounter are the travelling community, one of the oldest minority groups in Ireland . Different members of the community describe incidents of abuse and discrimination. Michael McDonagh is a young married man with two children. He describes problems he encountered as a traveller with education, socialising and even booking a hotel for his wedding.

Michael Mongan explains that travellers have been experiencing prejudice for generations. Eileen Maughan describes how language can cause a lack of trust between travellers and settled people. The travellersí section concludes with a poem written by young travellers explaining that they only want for themselves what others take for granted, the right to their culture, education, health and accommodation.

The final group we come to is the biggest ethnic minority group in Northern Ireland with 8,000 members (and the biggest ethnic group in the world), the Chinese. Anna Watson from the Chinese Welfare Association describes the strategies they use to help their members. They have schemes to help young people participate fully in society, like English classes and homework classes, yet they also run courses and classes in the Chinese language and heritage so that young people can keep in touch with their Eastern culture.

After looking at some of the implications of the 1997 Race Relations Act the programme concludes with reflections from some of the main contributors on the importance of not only tolerating but of respecting and celebrating pluralism and difference.
 
Key Issues
  • Racist attitudes towards minorities are not the fault of the minorities. People who have negative attitudes towards others purely because of their colour or culture are the ones with the problem.
  • It is only by getting to know people that we can find out what they are really like.
  • Self-respect and self-esteem are as important as respect for others.
  • People have the right to express their culture, language and traditions in a way which does not impinge on the rights of others.
  • Communication difficulties caused by language barriers can create tensions and a sense of isolation especially in communities which are dispersed over a wide area.
  • It is hard for us to escape the dangers of stereotyping other religious, racial or cultural groups
Background
 
It is difficult to be sure exactly how many people in Northern Ireland belong to minority groups because no census question has been asked regarding ethnicity. This situation is due to change for the 2001 census.

There are many minority groups in Northern Ireland. Most of them, except the Jewish and Traveller community, arrived after the foundation of the state. Most ethnic minority people have come to Northern Ireland for economic or political reasons and they have many positions within society from very well integrated and successful to very isolated and underprivileged.
 
Before Viewing
  • The discussions and examinations contained in the pluralism module of the Social, Civic and Political Education curriculum provide an excellent context for this programme.
After Viewing

  Some of the following quotations from the programme can be used to stimulate discussion.
  • "I happened to see a TV interview and the interviewer had gone out to the people on the street and had asked people whether they thought there was a problem of racism here in Northern Ireland. It was interesting that each of the people said that there wasnít a problem because there werenít that many ethnic minority and black people here yet. Which in itself was saying that it is the actual presence of the people which causes the problem rather than the reaction of people from the so called majority communities, which is where the problem actually is." - Deepa Mann Kler
     
  • "I live here with my immediate family - my son, my wife and my daughter. First and foremost you run into some culture shock, value shock, and the fact that you are existing more or less without your own extended family around you which is a prized possession in my own culture. That was a problem for me when I came." - Femi Olayisade
     
  • "It's tough. It's hard because of other people's attitudes towards you. They don't know you. They don't trust, they don't know who you are - what makes you tick - what makes you live in these harsh conditions. It's that hard to get through to them that you want to live this way. If you're born black you can't change your colour. If you're born a traveller you can't change." - Michael Mongan
     
  • "In Northern Ireland we're a very divided society. In Northern Ireland we are very sectarian society and I think we all need to understand that we are all different but we are all equal. We all have a part to play and that diversity is only going to add richness to our lives rather than say "you are from the other side or you are from very far away we don't want you". It's really opening yourself up. There is a lot to learn in life and there is so much in life that it isnít just about you, yourself about your identity, it's about opening your eyes out to see others and embracing others and celebrating diversity." - Anna Watson
     
  • "One of the key words would probably be respect, you know respect for everybody, you know white people, black people, Chinese people, Muslims, Hindus - just everybody. It's because you know if everybody's treated the same then you know everything will be alright, but if everybody's not then it leads to conflict." - Blathnaid McCooey
     
  • "The world is so small because of technology. You don't know where you're going to be tomorrow. When you step out of your community you become a minority and you should treat others just like you want others to treat you." - Femi Olayisade
     
Director's Comments
 
In the beginning this programme was going to be called "Ethnic Minorities" but we decided after discussion that the very term 'ethnic minority' does not do justice to the needs and concerns of the various groups in our society. A group can be a minority in one area yet be a majority elsewhere. This is well illustrated by the experience of the Chinese community; a minority in Northern Ireland but a majority group in global terms. Also, the term Ďethnic minorityí in a way is unfair as it shifts the focus of any problem from where it should be -with us all in society especially those who inflict abuse or who discriminate - to the people who suffer abuse and disadvantage most.
 
Estimated Population of Ethnic Minorities in NI
 
Please note:
  • The figures are estimates and intended for information purposes as a rough guide only.
  • True figures are likely to be much higher. More accurate information will be available after the 2001 census, the 1991 census included a question on religion but not on national/ethnic background.
  • The list of languages does not cover all minority languages within the cited communities.
Table 1

Communities with over 500 members:
 
Community
Numbers
Main Languages
Main Geographical
areas within N.I.
Chinese
8000
Chinese (Cantonese)
South/East Belfast
Craigavon, L’Derry
Down, Lisburn
Western
European
3000
(Various)
Various
Indian
1500
Hindi English
Greater Belfast
Punjabi
Belfast/Derry
African
1500
English, Swahili, Fulani, Xhosa
Belfast, Co. Antrim
Travelling
Community
1500
English, Cant
West Belfast, Derry, Newry
North
American
1500
English
Various
Pakistani
1000
Urdu, English, Punjabi, Mirpuri
Greater Belfast,
Craigavon
Jewish
Community
500
English
North Belfast
 
Notes for Table 1
  1. The Chinese community includes Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Mainland China. The community is largely Cantonese speaking although Mandarin and Hakka also spoken, all are colloquially referred to as "Chinese".
  2. Western Europeans include Germans (800), French, Italians, Spanish (500 each), Scandinavians (100), Dutch (30) and Portuguese (20).
  3. The African community includes Nigerians, Kenyans, Ghanians, South Africans and Zimbabweans.
  4. The Indian community includes many members of the Sikh community who are often Punjabi speakers.
Please note:
  • The figures are estimates and intended for information purposes as a rough guide only.
  • True figures are likely to be much higher. More accurate information will be available after the 2001 census, the 1991 census included a question on religion but not on national/ethnic background.
  • The list of languages does not cover all minority languages within the cited communities.
Table 2

Communities with 20 to 500 members:

 
 
Community
Numbers
Community
Numbers
Iranians
350
South Koreans
150
Malays
50
Arabs
300
Eastern Europeans
100
New Zealand
50
Vietnamese
300
Greeks
50
Guyanese
30
Bangladeshis
300
Australians
50
Thais
30
Latin Americans
150
Japanese
50
Indonesians
20
Filipinos
150
Turkish
50
Sri Lankian
20
 
Notes for Table 2
  1. The Arab community includes Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans, Saudis and Iraqis.
  2. Latin Americans includes Colombians (50), Argentinians (30), Chileans (20) and Mexicans (10).
  3. Eastern Europeans include Bosnians (30), Croatians, (10), Polish (10), Romanians (10) and Serbs (10).
Please note:
  • The figures are estimates and intended for information purposes as a rough guide only.
  • True figures are likely to be much higher. More accurate information will be available after the 2001 census, the 1991 census included a question on religion but not on national/ethnic background.
  • The list of languages does not cover all minority languages within the cited communities.
Table 3

Religious Groups

 
 
Religion
Number
Muslims
3000
Hindus
800
Sikhs
500
Jews
500
Bahá’ís
319
Buddhists
50
 
Notes for Table 3:

Whilst many Ethnic Minority Groups include those who are Christians or have no religion there are also numerous members of other faiths in Northern Ireland. Some major faiths are summarised above in Table 3.
 






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