ABSTRACT

The circumstance which promulgated this advertising drive was the campaign to mobilize people in Britain to categorize their identity as ethnically ‘Irish’ in the upcoming Census 2001. An ‘Ethnic Group Question’ was included for the first time in the 1991 Census; however, the Irish were omitted as ‘ethnicity’ was divided along the black/white binary.1 In response, a number of Irish groups in Britain, spearheaded by FIS, successfully lobbied a number of relevant organizations and important public figures for the inclusion of an Irish category in the Ethnic Group Question for the next Census, due in 2001. In the 1991 Census, the Irish population was identified from a combination of country of birth data and those instances where people had taken the initiative to write in their Irish identity in an optional box.2 The campaign finally bore fruit in 1999 when it was agreed that, along with other already specified groups, in 2001 an Irish category3 would be added to the Ethnic Group Question of the Census. The inclusion of the Irish as an ‘ethnic’ category for 2001 meant that you no longer had to be born in Ireland or possess Irish citizenship status to ‘tick the Irish box’; as the leaflet and media campaign incessantly reiterated, it was now sufficient if you merely ‘feel Irish’.