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Migrant workers and the north of Ireland : between neoliberalism and sectarianism

Garvey, Brian and Stewart, Paul (2015) Migrant workers and the north of Ireland : between neoliberalism and sectarianism. Work, Employment and Society, 29 (3). pp. 392-408. ISSN 0950-0170

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In 1998, the north of Ireland emerged from a protracted civil insurgency sustained by a socio-political infrastructure comprising an expanded Keynesian welfare state and a developing neo-liberal economy. This provided the context for significant migration to the North after 2004. While research highlights migrant experiences not dissimilar to those in other parts of the UK and Ireland after 2004 it also suggests that a number of reported experiences result from the reproduction of one aspect of a new sectarianism dispensation. Traditional sectarianism, while typically sustaining differential access to labour markets and other resources according to socio-economic advantage, was remade in the 1998 ‘peace-settlement’: a new sectarianism was institutionalised. While not impacting on all migrants, neo-sectarianism is now confronted by neo-liberalism, the out-workings of which do impact on many migrants. Moreover, experiences of some reveal important and so far unreported features of an accommodation between agent-beneficiaries of the ‘peace-settlement’ and neo-liberalism.