Mixing will lead to greater stability…

Danny Morrison recently quoted an old German military saying that no strategy survives contact with the enemy. Well according to the Young Life and Times survey (pdf) the same is true of social engagement with the enemy. Clare Regan has some of the highlights from the launch.According to its findings:

n 42% of Catholics questioned who had taken part in cross-community activity said they had a favourable attitude towards Protestants. Of those who hadn’t, only 33% said they had a favourable attitude.

41% of Protestants asked who had taken part in cross-community activity said they had a favourable attitude towards Catholics. Of those who hadn’t, only 26% said they had a favourable attitude.

46% of Catholics who had attended an integrated school had a favourable attitude toward Protestants. Of those who hadn’t, 39% said that they had a favourable attitude.

43% of Protestants who had attended an integrated school said they had a favourable attitude to Catholics. Only 36% of those who hadn’t, said they had a favourable attitude.

Not terribly surprising as such. But some of the differences rise by up to fifteen points, where there has been a significant exposure to the other side.

  • mickhall

    Interesting and it is something we would all do well to take account of. Basically it sums up the fact that jaw jaw is better than war war.

  • seabhac siulach

    This mixing is all very well, and Catholics shall have Protestant friends, and we all live happily ever after…except that affection for someone of another religion generally has little or no effect on how someone thinks politically…which I think is the major issue in the six counties, not some emnity based over whether one believes in the virgin birth or not. I have had Protestant friends. Has it affected how I view things politically? Not one jot…

  • Mick Fealty

    Fair point ss. I fear it was a slightly misleading steer on my part. It need not make a lot of difference to the politics, but has the potential to make contribution to the overall social capital in Northern Ireland.

  • DK

    I think it was Winston Churchill who said something along the lines of “There will be no peace until we have fucked each other Khaki”?

    Does this poll also show that Protestants like Catholics about 3% less than Catholics like Protestants – irrespective of mixing? Would this be the 3% of Catholics who vote Unionist?

  • Stephen Copeland

    I know the sections quoted above may not be the whole story, but these bits just jumped off the screen at me:

    42% of Catholics questioned who had taken part in cross-community activity said they had a favourable attitude towards Protestants.

    41% of Protestants asked who had taken part in cross-community activity said they had a favourable attitude towards Catholics.

    46% of Catholics who had attended an integrated school had a favourable attitude toward Protestants.

    43% of Protestants who had attended an integrated school said they had a favourable attitude to Catholics.

    That seems to show that, even when young people have had dealings with ‘the other side’, including considerable, intimate and prolonged contact (through schooling together), still then less than half have a ‘favourable opinion’ of the other side.

    Words fail me.

  • Cataegus

    SS

    We have to look decades on; initially it may make little political difference but 1 or 2 generations on who knows. Like investment it is all to do with the margins!

  • seabhac siulach

    “42% of Catholics questioned who had taken part in cross-community activity said they had a favourable attitude towards Protestants.

    41% of Protestants asked who had taken part in cross-community activity said they had a favourable attitude towards Catholics. ”

    What were the percentages before these mysterious ‘activities’? Now, that would be interesting…perhaps they don’t change? Get worse?
    We are, of course, assuming that the percentages represent some sort of improvement, but do they?

  • Pete Baker

    That’s an interesting point, Stephen..

    Although, personally, I’d prefer to see a result along the lines of –

    100% had a neutral attitude [rather than favourable or unfavourable]

  • slug

    Can I point out the problem of “self-selection”.

    People who participate in cross-community activities often choose to do so. If so it may well be the case that those who have a more positive attitude to the other religion choose to participate in them, explaining the higher %. That is, there is no evidence in this that the cross-community activity is the thing that is causing the more positive attitude.

  • Cataegus

    Stephen

    “still then less than half have a ‘favourable opinion’ of the other side.”

    I agree utterly depressing and indicates just how bitter the divide actually is. Children reflect the views they learn at home so we must conclude that the view that each community has for each other is toxic.

    However I thought that an improvement of around 10% was one worth seizing and over a generation or two who knows. Certainly the problems here are not going to disappear quickly.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Mick,

    Your link to the Research Update is wrong. The correct one is:

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/publications/updates/update43.pdf

  • seabhac siulach

    “What were the percentages before these mysterious ‘activities’? Now, that would be interesting…perhaps they don’t change? Get worse?
    We are, of course, assuming that the percentages represent some sort of improvement, but do they?”

    I see that these numbers have now appeared…or is it that I didn’t see them before…?
    Okay, so the interaction produced an improvement in attitudes…fair enough…

  • middle-class taig

    the figures do, however, suggest that integrated education is failing

  • seabhac siulach

    “the figures do, however, suggest that integrated education is failing”

    As it will. It is simplistic in the extreme to think that mixing with those of another religion in schools will somehow wipe away the practises and political opinions learnt in the home. This is where a child learns their bias…from their parents. No amount of integrated schooling can ever really hope to overcome the example a child receives at home, in my opinion. Those lessons learnt at a Mother’s knee are the most well learnt and the most long lasting! Wasn’t there some study that found that children as young as three showed sectarian attitudes, that is, at an age before they even started school.
    It is putting the cart before the horse, thinking that schooling is the solution to all (or even one) of societies ills…they are merely a reflection of them…
    If a child attends a mixed school and then steps out onto a street where one side of the road might have union jacks flying, and the other tricolours, it will all be for nothing. That child, by the very nature of the system in the six counties, will have to choose a side…this is even prevalent in the anti-discrimination form that we all have to sign when starting a new job…are you a member of the protestant or the catholic community, it asks. And by choosing sides, we make a political decision, and it is this politics, not the affection with which we hold the other side that is the important factor.

  • Cataegus

    SS

    “it is this politics, not the affection with which we hold the other side that is the important factor.”

    And why do we have this politics, it is because of fear, mistrust and misunderstanding. We brand communities in mass as though a homogeneous body of zealots and bigots. More difficult to do that if you know some of them.

    “That child, by the very nature of the system in the six counties, will have to choose a side”

    No they don’t they aren’t sheep or lemmings. They have free will

    If we follow a council of despair we do nothing and nothing changes. Taking on board all the reservations and other issues surrounding the figures it would seem that a 10% improvement is a worthwhile gain. Of course we are not going to overcome 500 years of atrocities and mistrust by waving a wand, but it’s a start. Short of inter-religion forced mirages or ethnic cleansing what else can we do?*!*!

    Where does one start?

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all, I would have loved it if the survey questioned the people regarding the premise if social activity would eventually lead to more mariages between the communities and record the answers to that. Bet it would be real interesting what the response would be.

  • jupin

    “an old German military saying”, considering they lost most of their wars its a bit stupid innit ? or maybe thats why they lost…….their plans had a small flaw……….they were bollocks.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Jupin: “”an old German military saying”, considering they lost most of their wars its a bit stupid innit ? or maybe thats why they lost…….their plans had a small flaw……….they were bollocks. ”

    Actually, the Schlieffen plan for the Western Offensive in WW I would have worked, had not von Molkte meddled with the deployment of forces. It was actually a rather straight-forward plan that played upon the French tactical doctrine of being prepared to fight the previous war. However, von Molkte redistributed the forces, weakening the flanking force, strengthened the frontal force to stand and defend, rather than a fighting withdraw and sent some of the forces necessary for the offense to the Eastern front, to participate in battle that would be well over by the time they arrived.

    Likewise, the doctrine for WW2 was equally up to snuff. The problems were more on the strategic level — the little Austrian corporal, like a binge drinker, never knew when to say when. his generals, such as Guderian and Rommel were visionaries. Also, plain old-fashioned politics got in the way, such as Il Duce’s “invasion” of Greece, which delay the Barbarsossa invasion several crucial weeks. Furthermore, the paper-hanger’s fascination with ethnic purity self-sabotaged, losing the Germans the warm welcome they received in the Ukraine.

    Planning and doctrine weren’t the German’s problem. Knowing when to leave well enough alone — that was the problem.

  • Cataegus

    DC

    Il Duce’s “invasion” of Greece,

    It is worth remembering that the German tanks froze up about 14 miles from Moscow. If they had started a few weeks earlier, they would have been into Moscow with no regiments from Siberia and bye to Stalin. The Greek delay may have lost the Germans the war. Of course if they had treated the Russians well and acted as a liberating force they would also have won but they give them the choice between frying pan and fire. Stalin wasn’t at all popular!.

    Lesson to learn from this are don’t fight other people’s wars, accept diversity, don’t waste resources by killing your own people and better to treat people well and form alliances. Hitler’s bunch were one sick collection of weirdoes, but people voted for them, which neatly bring us back to NI politics.

  • Donnacha

    Seabhac Siulach presents a grim picture and one that may well be true. However, personal experience has taught me that mixing with “Them” can lead to better attitudes. It humanises “Them” for a start and, while it will take a good three generations of what passes for normality in NI to have any significant attitude adjustment, it will happen.