26 April 2006

Mixing is vital for a stable society

Belfast Telegraph

By Claire Regan
26 April 2006

A major study into the attitudes of 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland shows that cross-community activity and greater integration in education are vital to the building of a more stable and inclusive society, it was claimed today.

Duncan Morrow, chief executive of the Community Relations Council (CRC), said that the Young Life and Times Survey - published this morning as part of Community Relations Week - points to "significantly greater support for religious mixing".

It also shows more favourable attitudes towards the other main religious community amongst young people who have taken part in cross-community activities or attended integrated schools, he said.

The Young Life and Times Survey is a major study that has been carried out by ARK, a research project managed jointly by Queen's University and the University of Ulster, over the past three years.

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.

Mr Morrow said the findings provide further evidence "of what those of us working in community relations have always known: that participation in cross-community activities and greater integration in education are vital in terms of building a shared society that will benefit all of the citizens of Northern Ireland".

"Without this activity, which is taking place largely unnoticed across Northern Ireland all year, CRC believes that we would end up with a permanently segregated, divided and distrustful society," he said.

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