Hart, Gavin (2018) Immigration, Diversity and Political Parties: Northern Ireland 2004-2014. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.
Abstract

This thesis considers the impact of immigration on party politics in Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2014. It maps out key areas of consensus and conflict between the major political parties during a period of changing cultural demography. In order to do this, an in-depth, thematic analysis is carried out on party narratives that relate to immigration, cultural accommodation and racism during the period studied. The data is derived from original interviews, contributions to assembly debates and a range of other qualitative sources. The thesis highlights a tendency for issues related to immigration to become ‘swords and shields’ in the arena of inter-party conflict.

It will be shown that ethnically defined parties utilise immigration in order to bolster long-standing ideological narratives related to historic divisions in the territory. It is argued that this process undermines the possibility for political leadership in offering cultural accommodation for new minorities, and joined-up action in tackling racism. It is suggested that this evidence highlights the need for some degree of explicit political separation between matters that pertain to immigration-generated diversity, and issues related to bi-national accommodation in the territory.

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