Job Discrimination in Northern Ireland and the Law in Relation to the Theory of Ethnic Nationalism

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Most liberal-minded people would view job discrimination on non-meritocratic grounds as wrong. Thus ‘liberal' states usually outlaw it and try to promote schemes of mutual understanding and tolerance between different ethnic or religious groups. In Northern Ireland, there is a feeling that discrimination in itself is a major factor fomenting intercommunal strife and religious conflict. Equally, it has become part of modern liberal rhetoric to extol the values of differences, of being multicultural and proclaiming the virtues of tolerance and understanding alongside the banning of discrimination. Thus, in Northern Ireland, combating job discrimination is seen as an important part of trying to heal the sectarian conflict within the Province. However, it is the argument of this article that such policies are flawed for they miss a vital cause of discrimination in the first place. Modern nationalism, particularly ethnic, is about discrimination and the triumph of one ethnic group over the ‘other', and not about tolerance and equality, except at the rhetorical level. Consequently, until this factor is addressed, policies to combat job discrimination will fail since they miss the fundamentally sectarian nature of ethnic nationalism, which is often about jobs for the ethnic group.

Keywords: Discrimination; Ethnic-nationalism; Northern Ireland

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2005

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