Sectarianism in Northern Ireland report launched today

“What we are doing at the moment is not enough. We need to actively take care of regular sustained relationships. Social integration must be a project.”

The Sectarianism in Northern Ireland report was launched today at Ulster University Belfast.

The report gives a general overview of the state of communal relations in Northern Ireland and highlights the continuing problems around sectarianism in our society. It was prepared by Professor Duncan Morrow in conjunction with the members of the Sir George Quigley Fund Committee.

Key recommendations from their findings

Government and Policy-making

Government should establish a body charged with ongoing responsibility for development, coordination and oversight of such policies throughout the community. Ideally, this would be a government department, supported as necessary by a consultancy board drawn from across civic society.

Role for Civic Society

In the absence of any provision in the nature of a civic forum, government should give serious consideration to the appointment of a body, appropriately funded and staffed, with an advisory board drawn from across civic society, which would be empowered to convey researched and balanced findings on matters of public concern to government, either on request or voluntarily. Such findings should also be publicly available.

Business and Economy

Business could create a fund for community and social benefit and progress. The fund should have clear principles of supporting a non-sectarian society and be strictly independent of party politics. Putting cash back into NI under the umbrella ‘Creating The Future’;

Business could sponsor an independent think-tank that would stimulate and inform discussion on matters of economic, social and cultural importance;

Inter generational Engagement

The extension of support for and from parents and guardians by involving them in inter-community programmes for children in early years and Key Stage 1 education;

Building on the principle of ‘one good adult’, mentoring should be extended through schools and youth services to include a formal programme of mentoring to engage with others in positive collaboration.

Education

Every child at school should be educated and encouraged to understand that they belong together with others of different backgrounds. Every school should actively design their curriculum and programmes of activity to ensure that this wider belonging to a shared society is central. In other words, every school should plan their curriculum as ‘shared education’, including identified elements of shared classroom and recreational activity in each week of school;

Alongside shared education, integrated education remains important. There is significant opportunity for applying the concepts of shared and integrated education through the classroom curriculum. At primary level, literacy, arts, sport and project activity could all be expanded to include elements of anti-sectarianism. At all secondary levels, History, Politics, RE, English, Irish, Sport and PE, Drama, Art and Music could include clear elements which address differences, common ground, cultural traditions, diversity and contentious debates;

Justice and Policing

The DoJ and Northern Ireland Policing Board should establish a priority fund dedicated to the repair or establishment of relationships between the police, young people and communities where there is evidence that relationships are strained, and especially where there is evidence of paramilitary pressure or activity engaging young people. This could be based in local councils, perhaps through Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs), and involve partner services and community partners as well as the police;

Each PCSP should establish a forum for police and young people where young people and police engage in identifying issues and solutions which can be practically implemented;

The PSNI should encourage police participation in a Youth Volunteer Academy suggested above under Fostering Youth Leadership and Participation;

 

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