Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

The Young: Peace, what peace? 65% believe that conflict really hasn't ended

One of the most startling findings of the survey was that nearly two thirds of young people (65%) did not believe there was peace in Northern Ireland.

Well under a third (28%) believed there is peace and the remainder (6.7%) either didn't know or had no opinion.

The people surveyed were all born between 1990 and 1998.

The oldest of them would have been four in 1994, the year of the paramilitary ceasefires, and the youngest would have been born around the time of the Good Friday Agreement.

So these young people will remember, at most, the tail end of the Troubles, but they are still living with the legacy and divisions of the conflict.

There is a sense that this is not a peaceful or settled society and this may be reflected in the fact that so many want to live somewhere else.

The past year has been relatively peaceful – our homicide rate is among the lowest in the developed world – but it clearly doesn't feel safe or secure to the young.

The same sense of unease and foreboding was evident in our last full LucidTalk poll, with a larger sample.

That was published last September and it showed that first-time voters in the 18 to 24 age group are among the most pessimistic section of society.

Then, 44.6% of them expected to see either a return to violence (21.1%) or economic decline (22.5%) but less than a fifth (19.4%) foresaw a future that included economic growth (8.7%), or peace and stability.

Such findings should be a wake-up call to the older generation that they need to settle their differences in an agreed way or see their children moving abroad to escape a home they no longer regard as peaceful.

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