Where oppression, denial of culture, faith, identity, and language have been a significant part of a group’s collective history, strong nationalistic and ethnocentric tendencies develop to protect and reinforce a threatened and diminishing sense of self. Within such a context, policies and practices in schools and state towards newcomers may be problematic. The preferred position in government policies would be for assimilation into the host culture and adoption of its values, but this approach diminishes the values and culture of newcomers and undermines the processes of integration. This approach does not promote an environment where debate on inclusion, equality and identity can create a positive understanding of migration and diversity. Ireland, as part of the global world, will continue to receive new communities, and migration from both Europe and further afield. Therefore, education personnel at all levels need to be trained, inspired and competent when working with diversity. The approach of schools towards diversity and the experience of immigrants can provide a key understanding of inclusion and exclusion in Irish society. These can range from communication difficulties, to cultural practices and beliefs, racism experienced, isolation, and the hopes as well as aspirations of families and young people. This paper explores, in the context of social justice and equality, issues of identity, needs, education, multiculturalism, acceptance and belonging for newcomers to Irish society, and the Irish education system’s preparedness in supporting their children. It offers an overview of the Irish education system in terms of new arrivals, with a focus on challenges and implications for school systems.
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