Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Why future is looking bright for me at last

Apparently the future isn’t bright and Orange anymore, it’s female and Catholic.

That’s the finding of a report into our society, 14 years after the Good Friday Agreement by the Community Relations Council. Sixty percent of entrants to higher education are girls and are Catholic.

Whether you like the sound of this or not, it’s hardly surprising really. For a long long time the adjectives “female” and “Catholic” were describers of the least powerful members of this society.

That section of our people, as epitomised by ex-President Mary McAleese, had the most to strive for when it came to equal chances, decent employment and respect as human beings. Where others were complacent about work and their rightful place, females and especially Catholic females had no such sense of entitlement or birthright.

What’s had to be earned through hard work, is usually cherished. And that attitude of valuing education and qualifications as a way out of limited choices has been passed on to successive generations of girls. I don’t know how that report felt to anyone else, but I was struck, on a personal level, by the fact I now belong in a category that’s described as being “the future”.

In Northern Ireland, that’s a very pleasant change, for a Catholic and a female.

Interesting times.

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