As a result of already being separated…

Davy Adams puts the McIlveen killing in the context of a separate lives scenario which may be a pre-condition of current political priorities (subs needed), rather than a result of clear political choices.

After more than a decade of relative peace, Northern Ireland still consists, largely, of two tribal groups living in almost complete isolation from, and opposition to, one another. In most areas, shared ground has long ago been carved up into separate Catholic and Protestant districts where only those of like persuasion are welcome. Even in the occasional mixed community of private-ownership housing, there is little real interaction between neighbours from differing religious backgrounds. In the main, people in Northern Ireland actually prefer to live, work and socialise amongst their own religious affiliates. The communities happily reside separately, in virtual parallel worlds to one another, where stereotyping and demonising is given full rein.

It is within that kind of society that we raise our children. Protestant and Catholic youngsters do not live on the same streets, they do not play together, they do not go to school together and they do not socialise together.

Most of them have never knowingly had contact – or at least not enough to form an opinion of their own – with anyone outside their own community until they leave school and start work. By which time, in all probability, enormous damage has already been done.

Many have been taught to distrust, or even hate, those from what amounts to an alien background. Added to this mix, are varying degrees of problems now common within any western society: a more general lack of respect for authority, a high proportion of young men having been raised without any positive male role model in the home, and widespread drug and alcohol abuse.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty