A CALL to action has been issued to the community across Britain to record their ethnic identity as Irish on their Census forms when completing them this weekend.
Census day, which is Sunday, March 21, comes around every ten years and it is a legal requirement that all households across the country complete the survey.
The information captured through the form is used to gauge figures on everything from unemployment to life expectancy, marriage and even divorces in Britain.
But it is also used to help the government allocate public funding - by identifying the areas for growth and where support is lacking, such as across healthcare and education, and among minority, ethnic and cultural groups.
Yet as it stands the document’s question on ethnic identity does not contain an option to record yourself as Irish.
The question, which asks, ‘What is your national identity?’, only offers tick-boxes for British, English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and Other.
Supporting guidance on completing the document, which features on the Census 2021 website, suggests: “If your [ethnic identity] isn't listed, select "Other" and enter your national identity in the space provided, such as Cornish, Irish, Polish or Indian.”
It adds: “You can give more than one answer if you want to.”
For community campaigner Róisín Ní Ċurráin the lack of an ‘Irish’ box to tick, is detrimental to the community – which makes it even more important that Irish people write-in their ethnicity when completing their survey.
In a letter sent to The Irish Post this week Ms Ní Ċurráin urged community members of all generations to do just that on Sunday.
“We are in the third decade of the 21st century and the Irish have still not achieved equality in Britain,” she states.
“The Census takes place this weekend, on March 21, but Irish people from southern Ireland’s 26 counties, have not been provided, as have other communities, with a nationality box.”
She added: “The fact that the official Census considers us ‘Other’ is providing a detrimental example to the British public on how to view and treat us.
“Although we are the largest ethnic group in this country, at six million, this is also ignored by this Census.”
In her letter, Ms Ní Ċurráin highlights that the current Census questions do not provide for Irish people of mixed heritage to record their dual ethnicity.
“Although other ethnic groups are provided with categories and sub-categories to record fully their communities, the Irish are supposed to choose white, which is a skin colour, not an ethnic group,” she states.
“Our former Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, apparently does not exist,” she adds.
“Should he be in Britain on the Census date, he would be denied the right to record his Irish/Asian heritage on this census layout, as will others of Irish heritage who have an African/Afro-Caribbean/Asian parent or grandparent.”
Ms Ní Ċurráin, who has approached the Equalities and Human Rights Commission with her Census layout complaints, explains: “This census layout will be, for the next 10 years, the basis for employment application forms, funding based on community size, how social housing is monitored and allocated, news articles and education policies.
“All will be based on a false premise, as the Irish have not been properly included.”
She adds: “Please put yourself down as Irish on this Census, even if you are second generation Irish and born in Britain.
“The return on our taxes, in the form of government funding of organisations for the vulnerable, is based on the size of our community.”
For the first time ever, this year's Census, which is due on Sunday, March 21, will need to be completed online.
For further information click here.