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L’impact social des minorités religieuses

The social impact of religious minorities in contemporary Ireland is evident in such things as the increasing diversity of the management arrangements of Irish schools, debates about the teaching of religion as a subject in Irish schools, the participation of religious minorities in political life, and the labour market and education experiences of minority religions.

Since the mid-1990s, Irish schools have become more diverse not just in terms of the ethnic make-up of their student bodies but also with respect to their management to take account of groups who do not identify with the majority Catholic religion. “Educate Together” schools are a good example of this. These are multi-denominational schools which provide primary level education to children of different faith traditions. The first Educate Together secondary school will open in 2014.

- For more information see Educate Together
- For a recent sociological study of the religious diversity in Irish schools see Merike Darmody, Emer Smyth and Selina McCoy, "School Sector Variation Among
Primary Schools in Ireland

How religion is taught as a subject in Irish schools, in the context of the presence of greater religious diversity than before, has also become the subject of debate in recent years. This is particularly challenging in a society whose educational curriculum has a strong denominational character, based on the Catholic tradition. Changes in religious instruction have consequences not just for the education of children but also for the training of teachers.

- For more detail see Kathleen Lynch, Margaret Crean and Maureen Lyons, Working Paper Country Note : Ireland.

The political representation of religious minorities in Ireland is generally weak. The current Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, is a Jew but there are few other members of the Jewish community, or of other religious minorities, in the national parliament. The local government sector has tended to be more “open” to ethnic minority representation – and thus to religious minority representation as most non-Irish people belong to a religious minority – and this may translate to greater minority representation at national level in the future.

- For more detail on minority group representation in Irish politics see Bryan Fanning, Fidèle Mutwarasibo and Neltah Chadamoyo, "Positive Politics : participation of immigrants and ethnic minorities in the electral process", Africa Solidarity Centre.

Some research also exists regarding the education and labour market participation of religious minorities in Ireland. A recent study found that overall the differences between different religious groups in terms of their likelihood of experiencing social disadvantage (in employment or education) are small (controlling for factors such as nationality and ethnicity) but that Muslims in Ireland are more likely to experience unemployment than other religious groups.

In general, the social impact of religious minorities in Ireland has only recently attracted attention from academic researchers and new studies explore Buddhism, Islam, Pentecostalism and other new religious expressions (though some less “new” than is sometimes assumed) in Ireland.

D 15 mars 2013    ABrian Conway

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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