MPs claim Northern Ireland’s minority communities ‘overlooked’ by policy makers

The interests of minority ethnic and migrant communities in Northern Ireland are too often an afterthought amid the desire to balance the demands of Green and Orange politics according to a unanimous report published today by the cross-party Northern Ireland Affairs committee.

It found that a lack of data and information on these communities leads to poor or patchy services.  The challenges faced by refugees following resettlement and the experiences and lessons learned should be addressed given the imminent arrival of people from Afghanistan and, potentially, Ukraine.

Speaking following the publication of the report, committee chair Simon Hoare said, “Northern Ireland politics and public life has been understandably dominated by Green/Orange discourse. However, Northern Ireland is increasingly becoming more than Green and Orange and people from a range of other communities feel overlooked in politics and policy making. We urge NI civil society to encourage greater representation of minority ethnic people in their own organisations, so that politics can be done ‘with’ and not ‘to’ them.

“Collection of accurate ethnic monitoring data bespoke to Northern Ireland is vital for tackling social inequalities and making effective policy. Its absence is lamentable; making it difficult for organisations to identify service needs of communities and reliant on decade-old census data, leaving little insight on the scale of demand or whether equality initiatives are succeeding.

“With families fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and the Afghan resettlement scheme set to begin we need to collectively prepare to welcome people traumatised by having to leave their homelands.”