And ursine mammals do indeed defecate in forested areas.

The Irish Times yesterday, via PA, had some of the reported findings of the BBC’s State of Mind survey [who will think of the children? – Ed] and the BBC follow up today with quotes from the report’s author, Professor Paul Connolly – “The key message emerging from our research is that many Catholic and Protestant children here still tend to live parallel and separate lives”. The findings shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone paying attention. And no, I don’t entirely agree with what he has to say

“One way of doing this is to encourage children’s sense of being Protestant or Catholic alongside also helping them to recognize that they are all part of a wider and shared identity as Northern Irish.”

Those stats the Irish Times noted

The survey revealed:

Over four fifths of Protestant children (84%) believed Belfast was the capital of their country compared to 39% of Catholics. Under half of Catholic children (47%) said Dublin was their capital compared to just 4% of Protestants.

Catholic children (51%) were five times more likely to see themselves as Irish compared to Protestant children (10%). Protestant children were nearly four times more likely to see themselves as British (58%) compared to Catholic children (15%).

However when children were asked if they were Northern Irish, there were roughly similar results — 53% of Catholics said they were and 49% of Protestants.

It’s been asked before, “a triumph of top-down politics”?

Adds Belfast Telegraph report

, ,

  • BogExile

    More catholic children see themselves as British than protestant children see themselves as Irish. That’s interesting.

    ‘Northern Irish’ isn’t an identity it’s a partisan slogan.

    Academics in search of a fudged ‘third way’ identity should refer to an Atlas. It’s pretty clear from that wibbly line across the top of Ireland that, like it or not, the children within it’s borders are British.

    The challenge for all the grown ups in the room is to make that an identity which genuinely gives room for, cherishes and embraces all other subordinate desires.(The geopolitical reality as opposed to the GFA rhetorical warmth). Bristish in Ireland can be completely different from british in Wales and Scotland and still be British. Oh and the toer challenge is to try and stop poisoning a predominantly homogenous group of white christian children with medieaval nonsense about how different they are bacaause of where they (don’t) go on a Sunday.

    A red letterbox is still a red letterbox.

  • Cruimh

    Hard to say how representative the survey is –

    “A poll of 667 children chosen randomly from 35 schools across the North”

    The children may have been chosen randomly, but how representative were the schools ?

  • Yokel

    Its not in the interest of most people in this country to even look at some kind of shared identity because most people only want their identity to be the shared one.

    I know what people will say that this premise is wrong but tell me what people were being killed and maimed for for ages, and why we’ll still see killings on the same basis.

    If the people really didnt want it, they could stop it and they certainly wouldnt vote the way they vote.

    People should stop whinging about how terrible all this separation it is and accept that most of them fuel it by their attitudes and their votes.

  • Animus

    One can be both British and Irish without fudging anything.

    I would be interested in the number of children from mixed relationships and how they perceive themselves. Many adults I know choose the ‘other’ box regardless of community background. I would like to know how representative my experience is; maybe it’s so small statistically that it doesn’t matter, but I do have concerns that my own child will be perceived one way or another despite the fact that he is the product of two atheists with differing community backgrounds.

    The capital of this country is London/Ireland depending on your views. Northern Ireland isn’t really a country in the sense, that say, France is. It’s 2/3 of a province. I’m not sure how old the kids are, but that’s confusing for many adults; for kids it must be too.

    Maybe in a few years this whole sectarian thing will have blown over… Unionists will be hugging nationalists in the streets, and having a sing song over a pint of lager/orange juice (delete as appopriate).

  • Dawkins

    I wonder what the situation would be were the parents to stop baptizing their children, and instead allow them to choose a religion (or none) when old enough to make such a judgement.

  • Ok. Before we get into all of this sanctimonious, self-righteous nonsense that these threads often descend into, lets look at this.

    Q. What is wrong with a Catholic child regarding themselves as Irish and believing that Dublin is their capital? For that matter, what is wrong with a Protestant child believing that they are British and believing that Belfast is their capital.

    Answer (In both cases) – Absolutely Nothing !!

    Many very decent families choose to bring up their children with total and maximum respect for other children and communities, while also making them aware of what they regard as their identity and culture. If this is done in a respcetful manner, then there is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with that.

    What we have here is yet another forum and excuse for the usual array of Alliance Party types and would-be-socialists to lambast as sectarian anyone and everyone who regards themselves as being either Nationalist or Unionist. It’s nauseating to be quite honest…

  • Animus

    Macswiney
    What hole are you living in?
    Many very decent families bring their children up with good values but still display attitudes which are racist, sexist and sectarian (add more isms as you like). Many families still have limited contact ‘with the other side.’ No one is saying that they are terrible people, but parents, grandparents, friends and family do have to take some responsibility for the fact that young children display sectarian attitudes and a woeful lack of understanding of ‘the other’.

    How can it be positive for children to continue living separate lives? That is what this is about.

  • Cruimh

    Just think – if we had integrated education all children could learn Irish. It would be easy to end the exclusion of the majority from a part of their cultural history. It would just be another part of the curriculum.

  • kensei

    “How can it be positive for children to continue living separate lives? That is what this is about.”

    He isn’t arguing that. He is arguing that it isn’t positive to try and force a single identity on people who are perfectly happy with their own and do no harm with it. And that point crosses both sides.

  • Gareth

    macswiney

    I think it would be a nice thing to do, whether people regard Dublin or London as their capital, to be Realpolitiker and accept that the entity of Northern Ireland exists. Whether people are nationalist or unionist they do similar things: watch BBC Northern Ireland, UTV, read Northern Irish media, buy products only available in Northern Ireland (e.g. Tayto!) among other things. Maybe that commoditizes identity, but it shows there are certain things which actually are Northern Irish. I think we need to note that we actually live on that particular parcel of land. We are governed by an assembly and have our own governmental and administrative systems. I think it is very curmudgeonly not to accept it, to refuse to share something concrete and relatively unproblematic which could be shared. I would not argue for Ulster nationalism or anything ideological like that, but there is something concrete which makes the place distinct from the rest of the UK or the state of Ireland.

  • Dawkins

    Animus,

    “Many very decent families bring their children up with good values but still display attitudes which are racist, sexist and sectarian (add more isms as you like)”

    Remove religion from the equation and you have one -ism fewer. As Christopher Hitchens says, “Religion poisons everything.” It’s certainly true of Northern Ireland.

  • Animus

    Kensei
    How kind of you to jump to the rescue. But Macswiney is so busy being nauseated that the point is being lost. This is about how Catholic and Protestant children view themselves – if they think they are living in a different countries, isn’t it likely this will spill over to perceptions of their peers? It’s rather telling that Macswiney instantly whines about Alliance Party and socialism, rather than to consider the impact this may have on real children, and not blogging anoraks and their individual ideologies.

    The point is still this: if children are growing up clueless about ‘the other’ there will continue to be sectarian problems, misunderstandings and a waste of potential and resources to prop up this system.

  • foreign correspondent

    Macswiney´s right.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    kensei

    But it isn’t about trying to force a single identity on anyone. Clearly, if half the kids surveyed can agree that they have a Northern Irish identity while also acknowledging they have another one (British or Irish), those children already understand that they have a multiple identity.

    Identity is not singular, and I think the assumption that a Northern Irish identity is being forced on the children by asking them a question is definitely not a “partisan slogan”, as the first poster suggested. If children – who have, from the looks of things, not been taught about a Northern Irish identity – chose ‘Northern Irish’ as part of their identity, then it is a very real thing. It certainly is for me and thousands of other people, and those who deny its existence are living in cloud cuckoo land.

    Out of the three identities discussed, ‘Northern Irish’ appears to be the one that is least ‘forced’ upon the children questioned.

    Anyone who has ever described themself as Northern Irish to me has done it in terms of also acknowledging their Britishness and Irishness, or primarily Northern Irish with underlying British or Irish roots.

    After all, identity is constructed, whether it’s Irish, British, Northern Irish or whatever combination an individual chooses.

  • kensei

    Sorry, Gonzo, don’t buy it. The question isn’t the problem, the idea that policy should be directed to a particular identity result is. Identity is a bottom up phenomenon. Social Engineering to attempt to focus on particular politically expedient identity is wrong. It’s wrong when they attempt it in immigrant communities in England, and it’s wrong here. You have to tackle it indirectly and allow it to develop rather than cack handly head on.

    I have little concept of a “Northern Irish” identity. It means nothing to me. Doesn’t mean I don’t respect other people, doesn’t mean I haven’t friends from other backgrounds (who’d take in both the other groups) and respect their choices. I do resent being told I should have some identity I have no interest in, or if I ever have kids I have to bring them up with a certain identity I don’t have. Butt out, basically.

  • DK

    “Northern Irish” – it’s the 3rd way! Let’s start issuing passports. It also appears to be the winner in the next generation when asked the nationality question: “Are you British, Irish or Northern Irish”. I am getting a powerful sense of schadenfreude at the thought of all the nationalist/unionist idealogues squirming at the prospect of either a) an identity with the word “Irish” in it or b) an identity that is separate from the rest of Ireland.

  • DK

    New chant for Casement/Windsor Park: “We’re not Brazilians we’re Northern Irish”

  • Bob

    Kensei, Macswiney, agree with you point re forcing top down identity.

    There is no inherent problem (or negativity) with parallel but seperate lives. Unforutnately this is painted at the problem as it has a ready made solution, if everyone live together they wihey will be nice and happy, the question is since when do you have to like everyone?

    Now as you note there is a world of difference between being parallel but seperate and neutral, and parallel, seperate and antagonistic. It’s a flawed logic that thinks if you remove the parallel and sperate then you remove the antagnostic element. Why not just try to address this element?

    This would require more honesty from both side when the neutral gives cover to the anatagonistic.

  • páid

    Attempts to forge a Northern Irish identity are doomed.

    It is based on loyalty to Northern Ireland, a state that was purposely designed so that British Nationalists would outnumber Irish Nationalists.

    This they did, and this they do.

    Don’t expect loyalty from Irish Nationalists.

  • snakebrain

    Surely for Gonzo to say that young children are already aware of the complex nature of their political identity is “a bottom up phenomenon”.

    The point that we all live on the same parcel of land is also sound; as long as we do have shared cultural experiences, however tenuous, like UTV News, or just common knowledge, like how to drive from Belfast to Omagh without getting lost, we have, to some degree, common culture. Hence the validity of the Northern Irish construct.

    Individuals may “have little concept of a “Northern Irish” identity” but individuals are hardly a statistically significant sample.

  • Aaron S

    Why, do you think, does the PA copy state that..

    “Encouragingly, around half of Catholic children and around half of Protestants were happy to be labelled as Northern Irish.”

    ??

    Methinks the author of this copy did not quite understand what he was writing about.

  • Aaron S

    just for clarification.. it’s the use of the word ‘encouragingly’ that i’m querying.

  • Animus,

    Once gain you have missed the point and you are confusing very different issues here. Behind your comments lies the presumption that it is not possible to bring up a child with BOTH respect for other children and ALSO respect for their own culture.

    I regard myself as being Irish and am from a broadly Nationalist background, but I chose to send my daughter to an integrated school. I wanted her to learn about children from many differing backgrounds and it was a very positive and enriching experience for her. She also developed a keen interest in Gaelic Sports and is a proficient Camogie player. She is also interested in Irish Folk music and plays several instruments to a very proficient level.

    She has (without influence) developed her own identity in this world combining her Irish Cultural identity and influences with some very close friendships with other people from different religons. I am very proud of her. She is both a wonderful human being and wondefrul daughter and she will do many great things in her life. Of that I am very sure…

    You cannot FORCE an identity on anyone Animus. Ironically, the Agreement is supposed to be fundamentally about mutual respect for other identities, but in your various replies to both myself and others, respect is the one thing that is sadly missing…

  • Aaron S

    You should never comment before you’ve read all the relevant info. i now see from reading the quotes from prof connolly that the source of the word ‘encouragingly’ is the survey itself.

    “One way of doing this is to encourage children’s sense of being Protestant or Catholic alongside also helping them to recognise that they are all part of a wider and shared identity as Northern Irish. Perhaps the most positive finding from our research is that many children are already beginning to think in this way.

    Surely somebody doing a research study at Queens should understand that there is nothing inherently positive about the third identity? Undermines the whole thing, IMHO.

  • Animus

    Macswiney – I don’t want to force anyone to have an identity, far from it. I’m sure your wonderful child is amazing (you are possibly biased, but I know for certain my own child is the most amazing child born). But I’m also fairly sure that many parents DO force identity on their children. One way of doing that is to say one thing, but practice another. Anyone at all can pay lip service to the concept of respect. Your child and your experience may well not be the norm; in fact I suspect this to be the case (please read my first post on this where I raise that very question).

    I think many posters are talking at cross purposes. I agree with Gonzo that one’s identity is fluid, and is often defined in opposition. If children choose to represent themselves as Northern Irish, why should adults who struggle with the idea of that? It might have been ‘encouraging’ to find out that 90% from each side view themselves as European. (I think it would have been interesting to ask a question in those terms as well).

    Macswiney – I hardly think someone who talks about others being nauseating is in a good position to talk about respect. A person who is confident in their own identity is in the best position to respect others. Sadly, that is what is lacking in Northern Ireland, confidence. Most people who exhibit sectarian behaviour first encountered it at home. Not everyone is the kind and loving parent you are (I’m not being completely sarcastic either).

    Bob – you are exactly right. One of the problems with the Shared Future is that is assumes that removing duplicate services and forcing people together will make all the divisiveness magically disappear. If that were true, it would have happened. Coersion will not be effective – some of the main problems, like poverty, will not be easily dismissed, and those are the issues which most need tended.

  • Dublin voter

    buy products only available in Northern Ireland (e.g. Tayto!) among other things. Maybe that commoditizes identity, but it shows there are certain things which actually are Northern Irish.

    Whoa! Hold on a second there! Are you trying to tell me that the crisp I love so well, made in Coolock for more years than I care to remember (who from Dublin 5/17 will ever forget the mouthwatering waft from the factory on Smokey Bacon Fridays?) is actually Northern Irish?
    I don’t think so! Cookstown sausages I’ll give ye, but Tayto for the Free State!

  • I Wonder

    Someone close to me lives directly opposite an integrated school and day and daily drive their kids past it to the nearest (2 miles distant) Catholic school.

    I can’t help but think less of them for making that quite deliberate choice not to have their children educated in the same place as children from a faith background other than their own.

    With a bit of “luck”(from their view) their kids might nmever even to breathe the same air as a wee Proddy until they’re 18 – 11 years hence. Thats their choice (made on behalf of their kids) but I don’t agree with it and I think that that separation is not healthy. Where you have separation and ignorance and a history of previous conflict, separation breeds suspicion and mistrust. Neither of these feelings encourages my optimism about a future state.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    kensei et al

    Why is this straw man argument of people being ‘forced’ into an identity constantly being raised?

    I can’t see any policy now or on the horizon for doing this. Nor can I see how these children have been ‘forced’ into a NI identity.

    The opposite appears more likely. I can’t see any evidence of these young people having been socially engineered. They seem to have developed this sense of identity despite the best efforts of the two “traditional” communities.

    Nor does having an NI identity preclude one from respecting any other identities. It is probably less likely to anyway, since an NI identity is more likely to be seen as one facet of the individual’s identity.

    And those who only see themselves as Northern Irish probably have more reason to tell the British and Irish to “butt out” than anyone else. I’d also encourage the CRC to “butt out”, as it’s clear that the growing NI identity needs little help with its development!

  • Dawkins

    I Wonder,

    “Thats their choice (made on behalf of their kids)”

    No, it’s made on behalf of themselves. If they really cared about their kids’ future they’d send them across the road. Another might even call it child abuse.

  • I Wonder

    Dawkins
    I agree that there are forms of abuse other than physical violence.

    Violence destroys innocence – parents/responsible carers making deliberate restrictive choices both stunt and compromise the range of possible futures for our children.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Actually, I would defend the parents’ right to do that – they should have the choice of what school to send their kid to.

    And they are lucky enough to be in the position to have an integrated school and faith school to choose from.

    It certainly isn’t ‘child abuse’ to send your kid to a denominational school.

  • BogExile

    ‘…He is arguing that it isn’t positive to try and force a single identity on people who are perfectly happy with their own.’

    Well, that’s Sinn Fein fucked then.

  • Dawkins

    BG,

    You may defend it but to most well-thinking people it’s absurd. What do you want, that this couple pass their sectarian bigotry on to yet another generation? How many more do you think should be poisoned?

    Larkin: They fuck you up, your mum and dad/They may not mean to/But they do./They fill you with the fears they had,/And add some extra just for you.

    In my parents’ home when we learnt of the violence in NI, it was as clear as the noses on our faces that religion lay at the root. Yet it always seemed to be the elephant in the room, to hear a succession of prelates the like of Simms and Daly refuse to confront it.

    Segregated schooling can only prolong the problems for … well, for at least another 1000 years. Is this what you want?

  • I Wonder

    I don’t want to be in the “Sir Humphrey” position of claiming that parents “aren’t qualified” to know whats best for their kids, but it amazes me that people who are confronted with the reality of sectarian mistrust (and at worst, sectarian hatred) do NOT realise the continuity between those two situations.

    Parents fail to make the connection between communities in conflict and their deliberate choice in choosing to be separate. In making that choice they repeat the mistakes of their forefathers.

    I was in the fortunate position of going to a small mixed country primary school. When I left there, the next person I sat beside in an educational environment of a different faith background was when I was 18. I feel I lost out because of that gap…

  • Pól

    Gareth,

    I shall henceforth switch my allegiance from Republics soccer team to northern Irelands after your enlightenment above.

    I too eat tayto, watch bbc, utv and even buy the Irish news. I have even been known to read articles from the newsletter online.

    I therefore must have a northern Irish identity.

    The only problem is I was born in Meath!!!

    Can I still be in the club?

  • Pól

    Oh and I still live in meath and work in Dublin by the way. I have never lived North of the boyne

  • Gareth

    Dublin voter

    There are two Tayto companies on this island!

  • Gareth

    Pól

    I read French news and that doesn’t make me French. But if I came from France it would be significant for my identity. People from abroad are welcome in ‘imagined communities’, but there has to have some geographic base. I’m still a Benedict Anderson fan. Anyway, why do you read Northern Ireland news?

  • Attempts to forge a Northern Irish identity are doomed.

    Don’t expect loyalty from Irish Nationalists.

    So why does survey after survey show that Catholics are marginally more likely than Protestants to describe their main identity as being Northern Irish? Are 53% of Catholic school-leavers going to vote Alliance in the next elections? I wish.

    The Nationalist political establishment, in their dogmatism, are clearly out of touch with ordinary nationalist people here. I’m surprised to see you, of all people, buying into that dogma Páid.

  • Q. What is wrong with a Catholic child regarding themselves as Irish and believing that Dublin is their capital? For that matter, what is wrong with a Protestant child believing that they are British and believing that Belfast is their capital.

    Answer (In both cases) – Absolutely Nothing !!<

    Apart from that the Unionists probably consider London to be their capital…

    It is the default assumption that’s so troubling – and I think it would trouble Casement, Emmet, Parnell and all the other Protestants who strove for the cause of Irish nationalism. I’m sure there are many Catholics loyal to the Crown too – and many more loyal to the fiscal transfers from London.

  • Pól

    Gareth,

    Because I am interested and want to know what is going on all over the island of Ireland.

    Also, I have much in common with everyone in the north – most of which you would list out as reasons for everyone there to get along.

    Everyone on the entire island has alot more in common with each other than they have with people in Britain. (furthermore let me say people in Ireland and the British Isles have a lot more in common than Ireland and anywhere else).

    I admit that you probably have more in common with your fellow ulsterman than I have with him but the same is true for people from munster and connaught who have separate identies.

    What I object to is people saying northerners have so much in common therefore northern ireland was drawn exactly the right way to encompass a shared identity and not one big gerrymander.

    One other reason I am reading northern irish press is that I am moving there in a couple of months for good.

  • Gareth

    Pól

    The reasons you state there about being interested in the NI press are exactly the same reasons I read southern things. Because I’m interested, and I share some identity. I also agree with you about NI being one big gerrymander. I think that it shouldn’t have happened, but realise that the situation then was hard to solve, but that’s not the point. It happened and we have to deal with it, whether we are for or against it.

    What I’m trying to say is that people have shifting identities, and it is unfortunate if we can’t find anything within the state of Northern Ireland which links us. However, I think if you look at things like facebook, where young expats create groups, it is often things like food which they can coalesce around. By doing so we can ignore the religious divide and share something. We can care for the environment together as well. There’s no point fighting over a country if it’s under water!

  • páid

    Thanks for the ermm.. compliment Sammy 😉

    Identity is a multi-faceted thing, mine enables me to cheer on the Lions for example, and NI (Irish) nationalists know there is a facet to their identity that is different from those over the border. Over the border, they are commonly perceived as somewhat different; they’re known as Nordies, they wear Celtic tops a lot, and don’t tell them they’re not really Irish after they’ve got 5 pint bottles of Bulmers in them.

    I find the rural ones much like their cousins over the border in the southern Ulster counties, whereas many city types would have more in common with the city people of Scotland and even northern England in outlook, humour etc.

    Just my perception.

    Whither the children? Well, who’s surprised so many Nordie kids don’t see themselves as Irish? I’m surprised so many of them do. Kids notice the world around them. The British BC, the British education system, the British currency, the British shops, the British stamps, roadsigns, pillarboxes and the rest of it. In other words, the Britishness of Northern Ireland.

    But they grow up, and they learn. And the number of them voting for younger, greener Nationalist parties increases inexorably.

    Because they realise that Northern Ireland was created to make them strangers in their own land.
    And I’m afraid Sammy, that this truth will always out.

    And I’m not recommending, and have never recommended imposing similar green stuff on the British people of Northern Ireland.

    There we have it. A mess.

  • Matt

    Dawkins and I Wonder,
    Can you provide a link to the study showing that Catholic education causes sectarianism.

    IW is the Integrated school of the same educational standard as the CCMS school.

    Your conclusions demonstate your own predujices…ie that u automatically think less of a catholic parent for sending their children to a catholic school.Suppose its an improvement from rabbit breeding vermin from old.

    Parents will send their kids were they are SAFE,and will get the best education.
    CCMS schools now account for over 50% of NI’s school children…therefore are you saying that over 50% of parents are thought less off?

    Take a look at CaltonRadio’s website and forum,check out Holy Cross,etc,read about the first shared campus attacks on catholic children in scotland….the hatred is unbelievebale and results in catholic kids getting killed….check out that last 10 deaths as a result of sectarian attacks…90% are P on C here and in scotland.
    Child abuse indeed Dawkins!
    Deal with religious hatred, the real elephant in the room or yes we will have the same old same old for the next 1000 years.

    Confront that and deal with that reality and you may make head way with your desire.
    Until then catholic parents will keep their kids in a safe environment and enjoy high education standards.
    I think they are pretty happy with their lot…you dont…thats your problem!

    I support them fully in their choice and commend them for doing the best for their children.

  • Cruimh

    matt – the then President of the RC church’ committee on education in Scotland,

    “Catholic education is “divisive” and contributes to the problem of “sectarianism”, according to a Scottish bishop.
    But Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, told the Sunday Herald newspaper it was sometimes “a price worth paying”. ”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2274383.stm

  • Matt

    Cruimh,
    Its divisive and an enabler of sectarianism…we know that and understand why that is…and it highlights that i should elaborate my ’causes sectarianism’ with ’causes catholic sectarianism’…which was the charge….your link goes to on to indicate how cathoilc education doesn’t.
    The point still stands…

  • I wonder…

    Matt
    Do you think religious hatred is the exclusive preserve of non-Catholics? That’s the clear implication as your alleging that my view/Dawkin’s view is a mere refinement of the despicable “vermin” slur.

    Its precisely because I dont approve of the choice of parents to educate their children in isolation from the other community here – when there is a clear viable alternative to separate education – that will help minimise ignorance and help prevent the suspicion/mistrust which can lead to hatred. As the subsequent poster demonstrates in their quote, divisiveness is clearly acceptable to some. I would suggest that it is particularly acceptable to those inclined to sectarianism.

  • Dawkins

    Matt,

    Why do you think Protestant children attack Catholic children? Because of the colour of their skin?

    I’ll put it more simply: what differentiates Protestant and Catholic children? Duh, religion, stoopid.

    Take away that enforced religion and what do you get? Kids. Oh yes, they’ll be encumbered by the usual torments of childhood, but one they’ll be spared is sectarianism.

    Are you seriously suggesting that separate faith schools don’t play a major role in nurturing religious hatred in Northern Ireland? Ever seen how school buses are targeted, how wearing the “wrong” uniform can get a kid a beating—or worse? Do you need a survey to confirm the obvious? Jeeze.

    Like I said, let the kids choose which deity they wish to follow when they’re ready. In the meantime they’ll have grown up with their peers and the religion of their parents will be of little concern to them.

  • I wonder…

    The stoning of buses, the attacks on the uniforms, the badges of separation are all apparently a price worth paying to ensure that the young are indoctrinated with one set of values and one only. God forbid they should get confused – better they be beaten senseless for the faith.

    My example of parents avoiding an integrated school and sending their kids to a less convenient denominational school (without even checking the credentials of the integrated establishment) mentioned their religion just because the example is based on real life. I would have taken issue with non-Catholic parents doing the same thing.

  • Diluted Orange

    Dawkins and I wonder

    I have long shared your views on how the current status quo of the NI education system continues to breed an atmosphere of sectarianism. However, every time I air those views on this forum I end up getting pelters.

    Matt

    No-one is suggesting here that our sectarian tensions can be neatly attributed to the actions of the Catholic Church but it is mostly down the decision of that Church to exclude Catholic children from being taught in mainstream education, which has led to what is little more than an educational apartheid being the norm in Northern Ireland.

    It has also led to the state system taking on a more Protestant flavour that what it ought to, but then this is hardly surprising if the number of Protestant kids greatly outnumbers the number of Catholic kids in those schools. For someone who has a substantial interest in Irish history it has always baffled me that, for instance, I learnt more about the Tudors and the Battle of Hastings at school than I did about the history of my own island.

    If you grow up mixing only with people of the same faith as you then surely it is inevitable that children will nurture a suspicion and mistrust about those people who belong to a culture which they have never shared or known anything about.

    A comparison could also be made in the fact that survey after survey has shown that, on average, people in Northern Ireland are more racist than the rest of the U.K. This may not sit comfortably with many people but surely these findings are not surprising if one considers that the ethnic make-up of NI is almost exclusively white. Ethnic minorities only amount to a minute percentage of the NI population when compared to most areas in Britain. So surely it stands to reason that people in NI will be more likely to harbour racist views than British people if they are more likely never to have encountered or befriended a person from another race than British people.

    By the same token then surely our kids are more likely to perpetuate our sectarian ways if they are segregated from each other from a young age along sectarian lines?

  • Matt

    I see ,camoflage the taigs so they dont get stoned.
    I see religious and civil freedoms remain important for all but taigs and their enforce indocrination.
    I suppose that women who get raped for wearing skimpy skirts deserve it and should wear longer skirts.
    The victims are wrong ,the perpetrators ,well no problems really…dont need to do anything bout them.
    I can see two unfortunates who could have done with the morals/values of a ccms school…we clearly were indocrinated with sterner stuff than religion….buts that just my stoopid view!

  • Matt

    DO,
    CCMS is now accounts for 50% of the pupils eduacated in NI…ie its the mainstream…the controlled sector is now the exception to the mainstream.
    Why does the same system not cause problems in the rest of the UK,Australia/US/Canada etc.
    Why don’t protestants go to CCMS schools…what do you think happens in these schools?

  • Cruimh

    I can understand the clergy wanting their schools for religious reasons. How much of the parent’s choice is based on the desire for their children to receive the religious component and how much is for other reasons ?

  • Matt

    the whole deal Cruimh

  • Matt

    I mean tradition (I went to the same school,so did me da),sport,education,education,education,oh yeah and religion comes way down the list.

  • I wonder…

    “Why does the same system not cause problems in the rest of the UK,Australia/US/Canada etc.

    Exactly what the taching orders aid 25 years ago. How little time and thinking has moved, as their product now mouths the same vacuous non-arguments in their stead.

    The same (logical) answer perists: the UK Aus Canada are not divided societies split along coincidental political religious ethnic national economic faultlines.

    “Give me the seven year old – Ill give you the man/woman.” (Unquote)

    I’ll refrain from commenting about what else was done with the seven year olds.

  • Dawkins

    Matt,

    With respect, WTF are you talking about? Did you actually read those posts by I Wonder and me?

    What sort of labyrinthine reasoning leads from the dangers of sectarian education to those of miniskirts?

    And why do you imagine I was bashing “taigs” as you call them? Those kids are not Catholic or Protestant. They’re blameless innocent children. Or they should be if their busybody parents are more interested in foisting their religion of them than they are with helping them cope with the world.

    As I wonder reminds us in his last post, the Jesuital—oh soz, the taigs again—maxim of “Give me the seven year old – Ill give you the man” is still endemic in this society. Are you someone else who’s not concerned that, unchecked, it could persist another 1000 years?

  • Turgon

    It is always a bit worrying when other people tell us how we should bring up our kids. There is either a feeling of guilt that you are not doing the “right” thing or indeed immediate rejection of this “interference” or something in the middle.

    I think teaching children to be proud of their own heritage is actually important and I see no reason to be ashamed of my unionist / British / Ulster culture.

    I have small children, too small for this to be terribly relevant at the moment. However, I do intend in the future to teach them their heritage and culture. This is entiely positive. What would not be right is to teach them that Irish / catholic heritage culture etc. is inferior wrong or anything other than different.

    I have no problem teaching children to be Northern irish but to teach them a completely white washed pseudo togtherness culture would be the worst of all worlds. Children are extremely good at seeing through nonsense and dishonesty by grown ups.

    As to seperate schooling, our child is to go to reception next year. He is going to a state school. I have no problem that this is predominantly protestant. I will not apologise for this, nor to I think anyone should apologise for sending children to catholic or integrated schools.

    I will admit that to me the most immoral thing would be not to teach my children our religious faith (we are already doing so). I am sorry if this offends some but I make no apology at all for that, this will antagonise some but it is our belief that that is our absolute duty. Anyone can laugh at this all they like but we believe that their immortal souls are of greater value than anything else and believe that we must do this. I suspect that large numbers of catholic parents have a similar attitude and I entirely respect this.

    This nonsense about religion being the cause of all evil is trotted out one this one regularly. Yes many, many many people have been murdered by religious zealots and many by those using religion as a cloak for evil. Yes and many by non religious or even anti religious doctribes such as Nazism, Maoism, Stalinism, the French revolution etc. etc. That Stalinism was anti religious does not make atheism murderous and the counter argument is equally fallicious.

  • But they grow up, and they learn. And the number of them voting for younger, greener Nationalist parties increases inexorably.

    That’s one interpretation of this particular set of Data, but remember that other data looking at adult attitudes, such as NILT, shows that a significant part of the population state Northern Irish as their primary identity, and that a higher proportion of Catholics than Protestants do so.

    There are all sorts of reasons why Sinn Féin’s vote has grown among the young that are not inconsistent with many of those same young people seeing themselves primarily as Northern Irish, e.g.:

    a. believing that the last number of elections have represented electing representatives to negotiate a final settlement, and believing that SF were likely to negotiate the best settlement for ‘our lot’;
    b. SF are active and effective on the ground;
    c. SF are active and competent in the media;
    d. they approve of SF’s stance on non-constitutional matters (scepticism re the police, Orange marches, ‘stand up to the Orangies’, pro-gay and women’s rights, economically left-wing, etc.)

    As you rightly say, identity is complex, so is voting behaviour…

  • Hunter

    @Pól

    “I too eat tayto, watch bbc, utv and even buy the Irish news. I have even been known to read articles from the newsletter online.

    I therefore must have a northern Irish identity.

    The only problem is I was born in Meath!!!

    Can I still be in the club?”

    You’re obviously unaware that Tayto in NI is an illegally partitioned crispmanufacturerlet. Though actually as in soccer it’s more the other way around.

  • Dawkins

    Turgon,

    “I will admit that to me the most immoral thing would be not to teach my children our religious faith (we are already doing so). I am sorry if this offends some but I make no apology at all for that, this will antagonise some but it is our belief that that is our absolute duty.”

    Why is this? Are you concerned that when your kids are old enough to decide for themselves which faith to embrace, they won’t embrace yours? Surely if your faith is the “right” one, it need not be indoctrinated but will prove itself the best.

  • Hunter

    @Mark Dowling

    “It is the default assumption that’s so troubling – and I think it would trouble Casement, Emmet, Parnell and all the other Protestants who strove for the cause of Irish nationalism. I’m sure there are many Catholics loyal to the Crown too – and many more loyal to the fiscal transfers from London.”

    Frankly and honestly I think that Casement, Emmet and Parnell were about as much of the same ethnicity as “Ulster Prods” as English Catholics were of the same ethnicity as the Catholic Irish. Sure there are people in the Republic who are of that ethnicity in the border counties but the background of other southern Protestants gives them a very different historical experience to that of the Protestants in Northern Ireland, even if they are unionists.

  • Hunter

    @Pól

    “Everyone on the entire island has alot more in common with each other than they have with people in Britain. (furthermore let me say people in Ireland and the British Isles have a lot more in common than Ireland and anywhere else).”

    Wrong. I’ve lived in both England and (more briefly) the Republic of Ireland. How many English people know what a bendy bully is compared to southern Irish people who know what a bendy bully is?

    Norman Tebbit has his cricket test, I have my bendy bully test.

  • páid

    I agree with all that Sammy.

    One observation I would make about changing identities is that suppression and oppression of an identity tends to harden it.

    With the new dispensation, I expect political identities to loosen from Orange/Green, and realign on identities common elsewhere. Left, right, liberal etc.

    If and when they do, I expect the 1922 border to become increasingly anachronistic. And I hope and expect an Ulster Irish cultural and regional identity to flower.

    I mean, Paisley’s half way there already 🙂

  • Hunter

    @Matt

    “Parents will send their kids were they are SAFE,and will get the best education.
    CCMS schools now account for over 50% of NI’s school children…therefore are you saying that over 50% of parents are thought less off?”

    No they don’t and in fact at no point have they ever done so, even when Catholic community background children were the majority of a given year group, which they haven’t since about 1992. I have looked at the relevant figures closely. Disagree with me? Then produce your evidence.

  • Hunter

    @Dawkins

    “I’ll put it more simply: what differentiates Protestant and Catholic children? Duh, religion, stoopid.

    Take away that enforced religion and what do you get? Kids. Oh yes, they’ll be encumbered by the usual torments of childhood, but one they’ll be spared is sectarianism.”

    So do you think that Andre Shoukri is a big Martin Luther fan? Do you think that he even knows who he is?

  • Cruimh

    matt – will you feel better if I admit to feeling just as uneasy about Free Presbyterian Schools ?

  • Hunter

    @Diluted Orange

    “A comparison could also be made in the fact that survey after survey has shown that, on average, people in Northern Ireland are more racist than the rest of the U.K. This may not sit comfortably with many people but surely these findings are not surprising if one considers that the ethnic make-up of NI is almost exclusively white. Ethnic minorities only amount to a minute percentage of the NI population when compared to most areas in Britain. So surely it stands to reason that people in NI will be more likely to harbour racist views than British people if they are more likely never to have encountered or befriended a person from another race than British people.”

    I would not be at all surprised if the people of Bosnia were more racist than their neighbouring Italians. They have suffered much more from the consequences of ethnic division. Once bitten twice shy as they say.

  • Dawkins

    Hunter,

    “So do you think that Andre Shoukri is a big Martin Luther fan?”

    I wouldn’t know. Who gave him his religion, together with all its bigoted baggage? And why?

  • Fraggle

    I live in Belfast and I have no idea what a ‘bendy bully’ is. What is this test testing?

    Hunter, read this an weep.

    http://www.deni.gov.uk/pupil_religion_series-3.xls

    The proportion of schoolchildren who are deemed to be “roman catholic” has been holding steady at slightly over 50% of the total.

    The proportion deemed to be “protestant” has been consistantly falling.

  • Ach Páid, I’m just agreeing with you all the time. You’re no fun!

  • DK

    Fraggle – that data also shows that ethnic minorities (non christian religion) are 3 times as likely to be in a state school than a catholic school. Also shows that the catholic percentage is dropping in the youngest age brackets – as is protestant. In other words the huns and the taigs are slowly being out-bred by the “Northern Irish”.

  • Brian d’Escartasat

    I can’t understand why Catholics would be against integrated education as it is at this stage their best bet for a speeded-up UI. It has always been in the interests of Unionists to keep the two camps entirely separate and hostile to each other. The longer the divisions are fomented and secured, the more permanent they become. It doesn’t necessarily strengthen the union but it makes the nationalists’ objective ever more difficult. The only way a UI will ever be achieved is through consent, and that was as obvious in 1927 as it is in 2007. Yet it seems as far away as ever, despite what demographic shifts might lead people to believe. Does anyone really think that the ‘50% & 1’ argument is a realistic future for NI?