NI Children Still Divided: Study

Ten years after the main paramilitary ceasefires Northern Ireland remains divided, a BBC survey into children’s attitudes has indicated. State of Minds: The Children is the largest survey of its kind.

The study reveals the results of the survey which probes children’s attitudes to their national identities, friends, political awareness and sports.

Professor Paul Connolly, from Queen’s University, said that prejudices are still there. “The key message emerging from our research is that many Catholic and Protestant children here still tend to live parallel and separate lives,” he said. “Our research raises fundamental questions for us as a society in terms of how we should deal with the segregation that exists.”

Professor Connolly said while children should be encouraged to have a strong sense of their own culture and identity, it should be done in an inclusive way. “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,” he said.

Among the findings of the study was that Catholic children were five times more likely to see themselves as Irish compared to Protestant children (51% compared to 10%). Conversely, 58% of Protestant children saw themselves as British compared to 15% of Catholic children.