Catholic and Protestant youths in the Northern Ireland are so cocooned from each other that they feel untouched by sectarianism, a new report says.
They live in a ghetto within their own neighbourhoods with little reason for meeting despite efforts to move on from 30 years of violence.
Riots and street fighting are marring relations, a report from Queen’s University in Belfast added.
Dr Rosellen Roche from Queen’s said: “Almost two-thirds of the young people we worked with were so isolated from the other community that they actually felt completely untouched by sectarianism.
“This is expressed in the findings as living in a type of cocoon.”
Dr Roche said her findings did not represent feelings in the North as a whole but claimed it illustrated how sectarianism could seep through generations to infect young people.
She added that one-third of more than 100 mainly unemployed or studying youths interviewed in nationalist/unionist flashpoints in Belfast and Derry had been involved in violent skirmishes.
The Facts, Fears and Feelings project involved young people from north Belfast’s New Lodge and Glenbryn housing estates and the Fountain and Creggan in Derry. Other findings included:
- Two-thirds hoped for a better, more integrated Northern Ireland.
- One-quarter maintained strong cross-community relationships.
- Three-quarters expressed fear of the other community or of entering areas where people from the other tradition lived.
- One-third said their parents and grandparents had negative views of the other community.
Dr Roche, of Queen’s School of History and Anthropology, added: “Friendships were almost exclusively maintained within their own areas.
“One-third of our participants were involved in violent skirmishes as a victim, perpetrator or both.”