Concerning the cultural field, statements made in relation to ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘social inclusion’ appear in strategy papers as well as legislation. However, there is no cohesive all-of-government programme linking intercultural dialogue and culture. There is also a lack of monitoring of existing strategies for international dialogue. Grants for multicultural cultural projects are given by government agencies (Arts Council, Screen Ireland, Culture Ireland, Creative Ireland) and through local authorities (arts offices, libraries, heritage). The awareness of the need to promote intercultural dialogue at a national level is growing and there are a number of initiatives to support this.
The central conclusion of the 2010 report How People Live their Lives in an Intercultural Society of the European Cultural Foundation’s Irish Committee, is that Irish people — personally, in their communities, in business, society and public service — are ready to learn more about other cultures and to facilitate greater integrations of migrants into Irish society. However, the capabilities and practices that might support an intercultural society are inhibited by some features of Irish policies and a lack of opportunities for intercultural dialogue.
Ireland participated in the programme of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (EYID) in 2008. Some critics have argued that the programme in Ireland focused on too narrow a definition of ‘culture’ as ‘arts’. Still, it resulted in many interesting intercultural projects that highlighted the positive effect of collaborative arts where professional artists work with communities to achieve the EYID goals of raising awareness and promotion of the role of intercultural dialogue. Many professional cultural organisations such as Aramb Productions, Camino Productions, Calypso Productions, Polish Theatre Ireland as well as NGO’s such as the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, Spirasi and the Forum on Migration and Communication have pushed for cultural recognition of minority-ethnic groups and interactions between majority and minority groups through engaging and inclusive artistic programmes. The programme also acted as a catalyst for policy change such as the 2010 Arts Council’s Cultural Diversity and the Arts policy and strategy statement.