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The experience of minority ethnic and migrant people in Northern Ireland


Data from the Northern Ireland Census 2011 illustrates that 1.8% (32,400) of the population belonged to non-white minority ethnic groups; and 2% (35,700) had been born in the 12 countries that had joined the EU since 2004. Northern Ireland was the least ethnically diverse region in the UK.

Since then, trends in people’s attitudes towards minority ethnic and migrant people, and levels of racist incidents and crimes, have fluctuated. Some 30 per cent of people believed that racial prejudice was increasing in 2019, compared with 49 per cent in 2016 and 2017; 24 per cent believed it was decreasing in 2019, compared with 11 per cent in 2016.

Racist hate crimes and racist incidents reported to police went up slightly in 2018-19, but there has been a general downward pattern since 2015. During this period, however, only a relatively low level of racially motivated crimes resulted in a prosecution or warning.

In 2016 the Council of Europe reported that individuals in Northern Ireland had a lower level of protection against racial discrimination than people in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Inequality and segregation in the employment market have been noted as key obstacles to moving out of poverty for minority ethnic groups in Northern Ireland, including people from Black communities and those from post-2004 EU accession countries. Difficulties have also been identified for those individuals in accessing suitable and adequate housing, healthcare and benefit services. But there is limited evidence on their health outcomes.

The European Union Settlement Scheme is designed for all European Union, European Economic Area, and Swiss citizens who wish to continue to live in Britain. Based on the recent figures, until the end of December, a total of 72,610 persons filed an application for this program in Northern Ireland. About 97 per cent of those applicants were given settled or pre-settled status.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry to investigate the experience of minority ethnic and migrant people in Northern Ireland.