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Ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland: Map


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During The Troubles, the levels of immigration to Northern Irelandmarker were low. However, there has been an increase since the power sharing agreement brought an end to official terrorist activity.

Most ethnic minorities live in the Greater Belfast area, although certain groups are focused on other parts of the province.


The first ethnic minority to arrive in significant numbers was the Chinesemarker. There are 4,200 speakers of the language (as of 2004) and although this is dwarfed by the numbers able to speak Irish and Ulster Scots, it was said for many years that Cantonese Chinese is the second most widely spoken "first language" in Northern Ireland after English.

Chinese people first arrived in Northern Ireland in the 1960s. Chinese is the largest non-native restaurant genre in Northern Ireland, as many of the initial immigrants set up food outlets in order to make a living.

South Asian

Apart from the Chinese, there are a number of other ethnic minority groups from Asia. Most came from Commonwealth countries such as Pakistanmarker and Indiamarker. The influx has led to the building of a Mosque,and a Hindu Temple to cater for spiritual needs. There is also an Asian Supermarket on the Ormeau Roadmarker in Belfastmarker.


There are over 1,000 speakers of Portuguese in Northern Ireland. This wave has been more recent, having started in the 1990s. Northern Ireland's Portuguese population is located primarily in Dungannonmarker, County Tyrone (where many work in the Moy Park factory) and Portadownmarker, County Armagh.


There are now believed to be 30,000 Polishmarker people living in Northern Ireland. This influx has been relatively recent, and has increased since Poland joined the European Union, with many coming on a short term basis for work. A recent report showed that in the Police Service of Northern Ireland's most recent recruitment drive, nearly 1,000 Polish people applied to become officers.


There are a number of other ethnic minorities, primarily from Eastern Europe. These include most recently the immigration of people from Hungary in many smaller towns in the west of province.


  1. House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 20 Jan 2004 (pt 13)
  2. BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Almost 1,000 Poles apply to PSNI

Famous people

There are a number of famous people from Northern Ireland who are from an ethnic minority background. These include broadcaster Lata Sharma (who is Asian), Andre Shoukri, a loyalist whose father is from Egyptmarker and the recently elected Alliance Party assembly member for South Belfast, Anna Lo MLA, who is from Hong Kongmarker.

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