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History Club - Week 1 Responses

Jack Crangle - 'Left to Fend for Themselves': Immigration, Race Relations and the State in Twentieth Century Northern Ireland.

Access this article here: 

Below are a selection of the responses we received this week, thank you and well done!

1. Using just a few sentences for this answer, can you summarise the argument of this article?

This article argues that people believed that, in Northern Ireland, ‘racial discrimination does not, in fact, exist’. They were much more focussed on the relationship between Protestants and Catholics. This caused them to not bring in laws making racism and racial discrimination illegal, which meant that it carried on unchallenged in Northern Ireland for many years.

2. Why does this article argue that it is important to consider regions like Northern Ireland when thinking about the history of ‘race relations’ in the UK? 

This article argues that it is important to consider regions like Northern Ireland when discussing race relations because of the complete lack of racial protection in legislation for almost the entire 20th century. Creating a society exempt of all of the UKs race legislation because it was widely believed that there was no issue of racism within Ireland. This in turn created a society in which racism was prevalent but ignored, neither supported nor opposed by the government, just ignored entirely.
Anonymous – Please give your name when submitting responses, so we can credit you!

3. What have been some of the long-term effects of the idea that ‘Northern Ireland was exclusively white’? 

The issue with ideas that ‘Northern Ireland was exclusively white’ is that laws to help ethnic minorities were not introduced, and they were basically forgotten about. Thinking that Northern Ireland contained no ethnic minority people at all led to ideas that, to be Northern Irish, you have to be white – an idea that is not true.

4. This article uses case studies of the Indian and Chinese communities in Northern Ireland. What are the main similarities/differences between the experiences of these two communities? 

Both communities faced discrimination, and were stereotyped and typecast into certain sections of society, such as restaurants or clothing, that they were often unable to escape from. A main difference was the size of these different communities, and how (and where) they faced racial discrimination.

5. Why were authorities in Northern Irelandso keen to exclude themselves from race relations law’? 

Firstly, they did not think that racism was a problem in Northern Ireland. Secondly, the problems caused because of the relationship between the Catholics and Protestants, meant that the authorities in Northern Ireland were keen to exclude themselves from race relations law and prevent that law being used to make that relationship even worse.

6. What sources are used to develop this article’s argument? How convincing do you think they are? 

I think the sources used to develop the article were well chosen and convincing. They allow the thoughts of those involved at the time to be explored, as well as including statistics to show how many people from ethnic minorities lived in Northern Ireland at the time. The thoughts and motivations behind these sources need to be remembered when we consider what they tell us.

7. Do you have any criticisms of this article?

I found the article very interesting, especially because I didn't know much about this topic. However, I found that it was a very influencing text. As if the author had inscribed a lot of his own emotions.