Discrimination and Racism

Activists in the IBRG asserted that anti-Irish discrimination in Britain represented the racist abuse of an ethnic minority in an imperialist state. They directly connected the ‘endemic’ anti-Irish racism in Britain and the ‘colonial’ relationship between Britain and Ireland.

At a conference on the British education system in 1991, an IBRG reaffirmed their continual determination to ‘reassert our Irish identity in the face of anti-Irish racism, particularly here, where we live in the home of the coloniser’. IBRG campaigns persistently arraigned anti-Irish bigotry in political discourse and ‘humour’ mocking the Irish. Coordinating boycotts and petitioning press regulators, for example, the IBRG fulminated against newsagents and bookshops which stocked anti-Irish ‘joke’ books.

In 1994, the Committee for Racial Equality commenced a national report examining discrimination against Irish emigrants in Britain. Some 79 percent of a survey sample of Irish residents in Britain said that they had been subjected to anti-Irish ‘jokes’ and abuse. When the report was published in 1997, it argued that race relations organisations had neglected the oppression suffered by the Irish in Britain. The CRE report perceived ‘a failure, both at an official level and in general discussion of race relations, to recognise the difficulties that many Irish people experience in Britain’.