The question of multiculturalism in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) has come more to the fore in recent years with growing levels of plurality within these societies. Indeed, new debates are opening up regarding identity and citizenship, which undoubtedly are challenging traditional conceptions of identity, with consequences for integration. Yet despite public acknowledgement of minority communities, an established equality and human rights industry, and a plethora of equality and anti-discrimination legislation, the article argues that NI and the ROI cannot as yet be described as multicultural. Using the veil as a lens through which to explore narratives about identity in NI and the ROI, the article discusses the link between identity and integration, demonstrating the integration philosophies at work, and furthermore considers the wider gender implications of integration. It analyses the veil as a symbol of otherness in Ireland, as a symbol of the threat of diversity, and as a symbol of fundamentalism in ‘secular’ Ireland. It utilises fieldwork carried out with Muslim women in Ireland.
Source: Irish Political Studies, Volume 28, Issue 3, 2013 – Special Issue: Politics and Gender on the Island of Ireland: The Quest for Political Agency