Belfast Telegraph

Protestants shop at Tesco, Tuesday is movie day for Catholics, and other peculiar perceptions of some Northern Ireland teenagers

By Michael McHugh

What does going to the cinema in Kilkeel on a Tuesday night say about you?

Well, according to new research, it is just one of a range of new ways the young people of Northern Ireland identify each other's religion.

One of the main youth organisations working in disadvantaged communities has released evidence of the unchallenged assumptions dividing a number of Catholics and Protestants.

Some Catholic children would not wear Reebok trainers because they bore the Union flag. Others believed Protestants carried Tesco bags in Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh on Thursday nights.

Among some Protestant youths in Kilkeel in Co Down, the belief was that Catholics went to the now-closed cinema in the town on Tuesday nights, according to a senior figure at the Youth Action Northern Ireland group.

Assistant director Martin McMullan said: "Some young people are not thinking about or questioning the conflict. Young people are feeling defeatist about it - 'that is the way it is and there is nothing you can do about it'."

He said some took the long way home when out to avoid mixing with members of the other religion living in clearly delineated areas and added that many had a very good idea of the boundaries between Catholic and Protestant-inhabited houses.

He said those from mixed marriages or who went to religiously-integrated schools were most likely to leave Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's powersharing government has a programme supported by the Coalition which aims to build a united community through overhauling some of the most deprived areas like north Belfast.

But research for the Commission for Victims and Survivors has illustrated the legacy of decades of violence for thousands affected by the conflict as well as future generations. The Troubles are directly associated with nearly half the cases of severe mental health issues in Northern Ireland, research by the Commission revealed. It hosted a conference to discuss its findings.

Piecemeal funding of support organisations will not properly address the impact of the conflict, an expert who helped victims of the Omagh bomb said.

David Bolton runs the Initiative for Conflict Related Trauma and has worked closely with survivors and relatives of the 1998 Real IRA attack which killed 29 people.

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