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Remove “Irish” as a racial group on ethnic monitoring forms

Comment 18th August 2010

One in ten people in this country have an Irish grandparent, and one quarter of our population have Irish ancestors, with probably a similar sort of proportion of Irish people who have British ancestors. There has been a constant ebb and flow between our 2 countries for at least the last thousand years – both good and bad.  The countries are different political entities, but as a people the British and the Irish are no more different than the English and the Welsh or the Welsh and the Scottish.  We are the same people, but different tribes, with shared histories, families, cultures and (of course) rivalries.

Either the Irish are British – in which case they're on a par with English, Welsh and Scottish who should have their own nationalities on forms, or they're foreign – in which case they're on a par with French, Italians and Americans (none of whom get their own ethnicity on forms).

Why does this matter?

It's not really important but that's the whole point – it's not important to gather information about who considers themselves to be Irish or not (because it has to be a subjective thing given the proportion of Irish descendents in this country).  Maybe it's being used to pinpoint potential terrorists, but for me it's just annoying and symptomatic of our current need to label everyone and mark everyone out as being different. 

Additionally it wastes money and discriminates against the other British nationalities by not allowing us to put down English, Welsh or Scottish – and for what reason? 

The ludicrous nature of this separate Irish "ethnicity" is shown by the donor card forms, which asks if you're British or Irish so that your organs can be matched to someone of your "ethnicity" .  It makes a mockery of the whole thing when 1/4 of the population is in some way "Irish" and of those with Irish ancestors probably a large number of them had English ancestors anyway. 

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