Gardiner Street, Dublin 1: a hub of hostels and hotels where you can find a room, a meal, a money transfer service, or assistance with an application for Irish citizenship… Many of the businesses and services in Dublin 1 indicate the presence of a growing, diverse, non-Irish population. The recent report on the North East Inner City from Kieran Mulvey quotes CSO Census data as reporting “significantly higher rates of non-Irish nationals living in the NEIC… ranging from 18% to as high as 52% across the five core electoral districts in the area”.
Long-time residents of the area have spoken fondly of previously living in flat complexes with balconies, where just putting out your washing to dry meant you knew all your neighbours. Now, housing arrangements tend to be more individual, with single units, perhaps only sharing a corridor, meaning there is less chance to interact with neighbours. Integration with one’s community is harder now than it was before, even for those who have lived here all their life. Many of the individuals and families we work with (from both Irish and non-Irish backgrounds) experience social isolation. Part of our work involves supporting them to draw on the resources available to them in their community.
Around St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate Irish identity: Dublin 1 is bedecked in tricolours, and thousands pass through to watch and participate in the parade. At the moment, immigration is a hot topic in politics and media, worldwide. Enda Kenny’s speech on March 17th framed St. Patrick as the Patron of Immigrants. But what does this mean at home in Ireland?
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