Integration into what?

Bryan Fanning

in Integration and Social Cohesion in the Republic of Ireland

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084782
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702215 | DOI:
Integration into what?

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In 2004, the Republic of Ireland became one of just three European Union member states (along with the UK and Sweden) that agreed to allow unrestricted immigrants from the ten new EU-accession states. Also in 2004, the Irish government introduced a referendum on citizenship. The contemporaneous government decision in 2004 to engineer rapid, large-scale immigration from within the EU barely caused a political ripple. Arguably, what is being harmonised through the EU is not one single integration paradigm but a number of social, institutional, and political ones. The harmonisation of integration has emerged in a context of multiculturalism writ large, where the politics of incommensurability — the Europe of continual wars and, in Ireland, sectarian conflict predicated on the religious and political divisions of the Reformation — has been tamed, but by no means eliminated. Developmental modernity by no means constitutes an end of Irish history. The developmental case for large-scale immigration evaporated overnight. What remains, in essence, is the yet-to-be-assessed social cost of rapid and large-scale immigration as one of several challenges to social cohesion.

Keywords: Ireland; immigration; integration; citizenship; politics; European Union; incommensurability; social cohesion; multiculturalism

Chapter.  8980 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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