Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has warned that sectarianism could affect poor children across the island of Ireland.
The Irish deputy prime minister told the Alliance Party at its annual conference in Belfast that politicians on both sides of the border must not lose sight of the issue if it is to be stamped out in the future.
"Sectarianism still has the capacity to infect future generations, particularly those who are experiencing the current economic difficulties most keenly," said Mr Gilmore.
"It is fundamental that we focus on shaping a future where sectarian thought and prejudice no longer has a hold."
The Tanaiste said all sides of the north-side and nationalist-unionist divides should consider each other's points of view to shake prejudices that existed across the island over the last 100 years.
"If we are to fully understand what happened, how it happened and why it happened, we must look not only inwards, but also outwards to those who did not, and perhaps still do not, share our perspective," he went on.
Mr Gilmore also praised Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson, who recently attended an event in Dublin where he gave the inaugural Edward Carson lecture - entitled Reflections on Irish Unionism.
"I think that commemorative activities like these can set a tone for the wider community in how to mark significant events and avoid unnecessary friction between communities," the Tanaiste added.
He was giving an early address to delegates of the cross-community Alliance Party at its annual conference.
Mr Gilmore insisted relations between himself and Alliance leader David Ford are very good and described the party as valuable contributors to the north-south dialogue.