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Comhar Bulletin February 2023

Irish in Britain releases the first bi-monthly Comhar Policy Bulletin of 2023. Members are invited to enquire about any items for further information. Please get in touch with us via the email hyperlinks below. 

Best wishes, 

Christian Zik Nsonwu and George Ingram 

Irish in Britain Policy Team 

This edition covers Irish in Britain's work with: 

Irish in Britain Activities

  • All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ireland and the Irish in Britain (APPG) 

  • British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) 

  • Voting ID Guidance 

  • Cost-of-Living Report  

  • Census Releases

  • Office of National Statistics 

  • All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia

  • Policy Updates from Members 

Irish In Britain Activities 

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ireland and the Irish in Britain

Irish in Britain recently met with Karin Smyth MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ireland and the Irish in Britain (APPG), to plan this year’s priorities for the APPG. The next APPG meeting and AGM are scheduled for 19 April 2023. 

British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly

In January, Irish in Britain appeared before the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) as part of their inquiry entitled: Protecting the Common Travel Area (CTA) in the post-Brexit era. The Committee considered evidence and insight into how the CTA affects the Irish diaspora in Britain.

Irish in Britain shared evidence from our consultation with members on how the CTA is administered to provide access to health and social care, welfare support, and housing. The Committee will publish their call for evidence findings later in 2023. 

For more information on what the Common Travel Agreement is, read GOV.UK’s resource here. 

Voting ID Law and Guidance 

In October 2022, legislation requiring photo ID to vote in most new elections was passed. This presents a new set of challenges for those who may not previously have a photo ID. Irish in Britain has published a resource guide that outlines questions and links to ID services. Check out our resource guide here.

Cost of Living Report 

Irish in Britain released their cost-of-living report, highlighting members' experiences since the summer of 2022 and some of the challenges Irish non-profit organisations face. Read the full report here.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) carried out a survey that focused on energy costs, the overall health of the sector, and volunteering. 

Census Releases 

Ethnic group, national identity, language, and religion
This report looks at both numbers of people identifying as Irish and the geographical spread of the population. Read our analysis of the ethnicity data here.

Ethnic group by age and sex, England and Wales

Irish in Britain published an explainer brief for the 24 January Census release on Ethnic groups by age and sex. This confirmed and highlighted several expected themes: White Irish have a substantially older age profile. Over 65s represent 1/3 of the White Irish population, and White GRT (Gypsy, Roma and Traveller) communities have a significantly younger age profile than the White British population. Read more here. 

Alessio D’Angelo and Louise Ryan published a blog for RTE: "What the UK Census really says about the number of Irish in Britain”. The blog discusses why it’s important to differentiate between the ‘Irish population’ as seen in the UK Census and the reality of the broader Irish community.

Read the post here. 

Office of National Statistics  

Irish in Britain met with the Office of National Statistics Data Harmonisation team to make recommendations to address issues with data collection. During this meeting, we highlighted that ONS ethnicity figures do not capture the diversity of the Irish community in Britain today and conflate 'Irishness' with 'Whiteness'. This is inaccurate and problematic.

We will continue to work with our partners and the ONS to ensure this omission is addressed and that data better captures the diversity of the UK.  

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dementia has launched a new inquiry into barriers to dementia diagnosis in England, with a particular focus on rural and deprived areas.

The APPG will conduct virtual oral evidence sessions from 1.30pm-2.30pm on 15, 22, and 29 March, led by APPG Chair Debbie Abrahams. See more details on the APPG website. 

Policy Updates from Members 

Traveller Movement Criminal Justice Policy

Traveller Movement’s HMPPS (HM Prison and Probation Service) funded research into purposeful activities in the adult justice estate for Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller people is now complete. The Traveller Movement team will confirm the launch event date in March. If you are interested in attending, please email:  

Irish Diaspora Support Group 

New research by the Irish Diaspora Support Project looks at the emigration experiences of Irish emigrants of minority ethnic backgrounds, including Irish Travellers, Black Irish, Asian Irish, Irish people of mixed ethnicity, and other minority ethnic groups. Read the full report here. 

Leeds GATE 

Leeds GATE published a report titled: ‘Understanding the needs of Gypsy and Traveller people and their experiences of probation’. It highlights growing evidence that the criminal justice systems, specifically probation, are not set up to meet the needs of the community and exacerbate the barriers and exclusion they face in society. You can read the full report here. 

Friends, Family and Travellers 

Friends, Families and Travellers have released a report: ‘Access to energy for Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans’. This explores energy access and prices for Romany Gypsy, Irish Traveller and nomadic communities in the South East and shows that the energy crisis is worsening fuel poverty for Gypsy and Traveller people.

Read the full report here.