Ireland, well known for its hospitable and genial people, has a diverse and distinctive culture. Due to the increasing immigrant population, the country is a vibrant blend of various countries, cultures, ethnicities and languages. Those who choose to call Ireland home can anticipate encountering this vibrant diversity. Here, we delve into the various facets of diversity and inclusion that newcomers to Ireland might experience.

Accessibility in Ireland

Accessibility in Ireland can vary greatly depending on the region. Urban areas are generally more accessible than rural locations, with public facilities and transport often equipped with features to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Ireland's National Disability Authority is instrumental in guiding these improvements, advocating for universal design and inclusive practices across public services.

Notable cities for accessibility include Dublin and Galway, both of which have invested in improving infrastructure and services for those with disabilities. The government's Accessible Ireland initiative mandates that all new public constructions and significant renovations adhere to strict accessibility guidelines, which has led to the development of more inclusive public spaces and facilities. Service animals are generally welcome on all types of public transport and in public areas.

Public spaces in large cities have been made more accessible through various initiatives. For instance, all of the Luas trams in Dublin are wheelchair accessible, and new buses in the public fleet are all wheelchair friendly. However, expats with disabilities should thoroughly research the specific location they're moving to, as accessibility standards may vary across the country.

Useful resources

National Disability Authority Ireland
Transport for Ireland: Accessible Travel Information
Visit Dublin: Traveller Information

LGBTQ+ in Ireland

Ireland, a country where homosexuality had been illegal until 1993, has made notable advancements in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. While most countries legalise same-sex marriage by way of legislative or judicial procedures, Ireland made history by being the first country to do so by popular vote. Sexual orientation-based discrimination is prohibited, and since 2015, transgender people have had the legal right to legally change their gender without the need for medical intervention.

Despite these developments, problems remain. Significant social challenges include issues like LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, with a Focus Ireland report stating that LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately at risk. Despite legal safeguards, discrimination, particularly in the workplace, is still a problem.

On the other hand, cities like Dublin and Cork are recognised for their thriving LGBTQ+ communities, and celebrations like Dublin Pride are evidence of the country's increasing acceptance of those who are LGBTQ+.

Further reading

Nexus Gender and Sexual Orientation Equality Network
BeLonG To Youth Services

Gender equality in Ireland

Although Ireland has made tremendous progress in recent years towards gender equality, there are still obstacles. For instance, in 2022, the gender wage gap was close to 10 percent, meaning that women made roughly 90 percent of what men made, a rate that was nonetheless somewhat higher than the EU average. Particular industries, such as banking and technology, exhibit this disparity more overtly.

There is a significant gap in the labour force participation rate even though the country provides generous maternity and paternity leave, with mothers eligible for 26 weeks of paid leave and fathers for two weeks. Because approximately 60 percent of women are part of the workforce – versus 70 percent of men – there is a need for measures that encourage more equitable participation.

Reproductive rights have seen landmark changes, with the 2018 referendum that repealed the Eighth Amendment, legalising abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for certain circumstances beyond this timeframe.

Ireland's Equality Act protects against discrimination based on gender, and government initiatives are in place to promote gender balance across public service roles. Public sentiment towards gender equality has also evolved positively, yet some conservative attitudes persist, particularly in rural areas.

Useful resources

National Women's Council of Ireland

Women in leadership in Ireland

While the representation of women in leadership roles is gradually improving in Ireland, the road ahead is still long. As of 2022, women hold 23 percent of seats in the Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Irish parliament), a considerable increase from just a few decades ago. In the corporate sector, progress is slower, with only three in 36 Irish CEOs being women. Despite government initiatives and quotas aimed at boosting female representation, this suggests that deep-rooted societal and organisational barriers might hinder faster progress.

Further reading

30% Club: Ireland Chapter
50/50 Group

Mental health awareness in Ireland

Irish public healthcare offers mental health services, but due to underfunding and personnel shortages, patients frequently face lengthy wait times. That said, mental health awareness in Ireland has increased significantly in recent years.

The risks of mental health problems may be exacerbated for expats because they experience additional stressors, such as cultural acclimatisation and isolation from their regular support networks.

The Irish government has introduced the "A Vision for Change" policy, which aims to completely restructure mental health services with a focus on providing person-centred and recovery-oriented care. The complete implementation of this policy is, however, incomplete.

Additionally essential to advancing mental health support and understanding in Ireland are numerous non-profit organisations. Through teaching and outreach programmes, Mental Health Ireland, for instance, actively promotes mental health and well-being. Aware provides extensive support to individuals dealing with depression and bipolar disorder.

Useful resources

Mental Health Ireland
Aware: Depression Support & Education Services

Unconscious bias education in Ireland

Unconscious bias refers to often unintentional and automatic judgements or stereotypes about people who are different from us. In Ireland, just as in many countries worldwide, there's growing recognition of the impact of unconscious bias in the workplace and society at large, affecting areas such as hiring practices and career progression.

Various governmental and non-profit initiatives are in place to educate and raise awareness about unconscious bias in personal and work conditions. Workplace training programmes on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias are increasingly common in businesses nationwide.

Further reading

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Diversification of the workforce in Ireland

As of 2023, foreign workers constitute approximately 18 percent of the Irish workforce, contributing to the richness of the business landscape. Although individuals from Poland and the UK make up substantial portions, the workforce also boasts a broad representation of other nationalities, enhancing Ireland's diversity.

Companies in Ireland are recognising the advantages of a varied workforce, and many are implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives. These programmes frequently centre on developing a diverse workplace culture that supports equitable chances regardless of a person's gender, ethnicity, handicap, age or sexual orientation.

Accepting a more varied and inclusive workforce has enhanced the corporate environment and stimulated economic progress. A diverse workforce enhances innovation, informed decision-making and a more global outlook within Irish businesses.

Further reading

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Ireland

Safety in Ireland

Ireland is generally considered a safe country and has a relatively low crime rate. The country typically ranks well in global safety indices.

For instance, Ireland was rated the third safest country in the world in the 2023 Global Peace Index. Safety in Ireland can, however, vary based on several circumstances, including geography, with urban regions possibly having more crime than rural areas.

The usual safety precautions are advised: stay attentive to personal belongings in public places, avoid walking alone in dark or secluded regions at night, and refrain from providing personal information to strangers. The Gardaí and several community safety initiatives provide safety information and services to residents and tourists.

Although violent crime in Ireland is relatively infrequent compared to global averages, minor crimes such as theft and burglary are more common, particularly in urban areas like Dublin and Cork. Reflecting global trends, cybercrime is also an escalating concern, prompting government actions to counter these threats.

Ireland is considered to have a low risk of terrorism compared to other European countries, largely due to the government's successful counterterrorism initiatives and the accords of peace that have dealt with domestic terrorism. It's always a good idea to be on the lookout, though, especially at large public events.

Useful resources

Garda Síochána Official Website

Calendar initiatives in Ireland

  • January – First Fortnight: a two-week mental health arts festival
  • 8 March – International Women's Day
  • 21 March – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • April – Autism Acceptance Month
  • 1 May – International Workers' Day
  • May – Bealtaine Festival: celebrates arts and older people
  • June – Pride Month: a month-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community
  • June – Traveller Pride Week: a celebration of the Traveller community and their contributions to Irish society
  • 9 August – International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
  • 10 October – World Mental Health Day
  • 20 November – Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • 3 December – International Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • 10 December – Human Rights Day

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