NI society suffering 'breakdown'
Society in Northern Ireland is breaking down, with soaring levels of unemployment, family splits, mental illness and addiction, a think-tank has warned.
Government must look beyond the legacy of the Troubles and set itself to mend the fractures in communities across the region, according to the Centre for Social Justice.
A report from the influential centre-right organisation acknowledged that the conflict had contributed to the current problems, but said many of the issues were also evident in other parts of the UK.
While the study - Breakthrough Northern Ireland - painted a stark picture of social disintegration, it claimed the decline was reversible.
The report urged the Stormont administration to take action.
"The political system in Northern Ireland, primarily concerned with the necessity of delivering political stability, must begin to provide answers to the severe social problems outlined here, with the aim of reversing intergenerational social breakdown," it stated.
"Although the hallmarks of conflict remain important factors in social breakdown in Northern Ireland, many people face issues entirely in common with social problems across the UK as a whole."
The study found that some parts of Northern Ireland suffered far worse levels of breakdown than others.
In the Water Works ward in north Belfast nearly four in five births were to unmarried mothers, nearly half the adult population had never married and two-thirds of people had no or low qualifications. But the report found many instances of outstanding work by volunteers and communities in Northern Ireland which, it claimed, could provide an example for the rest of the UK.
As a result, the CSJ said the region was in a better position to tackle some of the most difficult issues.