Disaffected youth being 'driven to paramilitaries'
Unemployment and a lack of youth engagement is throwing disadvantaged young people into the path of paramilitary groups, it has been claimed.
International Fund for Ireland chairman Dr Adrian Johnston said more resources were needed to steer disaffected youth away from risk.
Speaking at a special cross-border and cross-community youth event in Monaghan, Dr Johnston said there was a willingness among some young people to embrace sectarian violence. "We cannot escape the reality that too many young people, in both loyalist and republican communities, do not have appropriate opportunities to move forward and are being targeted for recruitment or attack by paramilitaries," he said.
"The willingness to embrace sectarian violence is an urgent reminder of the pressing need to look again at the support available to young people and the underlying causes of sectarianism.
"In difficult disadvantaged neighbourhoods, traditional youth programmes are simply no longer enough to address the multiple issues that impact on young lives.
"We need to be ambitious and creative in the range of options that are available and the ways in which we engage."
The International Fund of Ireland has, through its Peace Impact Programme, committed £4m to 56 community projects across Northern Ireland and the border counties.