Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 1 December 2015

The Young: Religion - do the findings reflect that we are finally leaving the old of the divisions of the past behind?

By Liam Clarke

Published 07/04/2014

Overall a narrow majority of young people (53.6%) felt they met members of the other community very or fairly often. Meanwhile, 32.2% rated their contacts as 'very frequently', the highest level of contact.

However nearly a third (31.8%) felt that they seldom met people of the other community and nearly a fifth put the frequency of meetings at 'hardly ever'.

They were asked to rate contacts on a scale of 1-5, with one qualifying as very frequently and 5 as hardly ever.

The fact that a substantial minority believed they had little or no contact with the other tradition may reflect the prevalence of segregated schools and neighbourhoods.

However, less than a quarter of the sample (22.5%) were school students, and the number with no contact is surprising, given the fact that most town centres and places of entertainment in Northern Ireland are mixed.

Bill White, of pollsters LucidTalk, believes that it may be a matter of perception – many young people may not be aware of, or care about, the political or religious tradition of people they meet casually as opposed to those they know personally. Just under 21% said they had no religious affiliation and 38 people skipped the question on religion altogether.

Not caring or not knowing may explain a puzzling discrepancy between the two religious groups.

Catholic young people believed that they have more frequent cross-community contacts than their Protestant peers.

60% of Catholics (excluding none and others) felt they often met Protestants but considerably less Protestants (40%) reported having much contact with Catholics.

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