In some ways, Northern Ireland has moved forward and in others it has stood still and that's why I'm so passionate about the development of integrated education across the land.
Children hold the future for how this society is going to be and if it is to be a more tolerant, respectful place to live then having boys and girls from different dominations learning side by side is critical. It's something that both me and my wife Christine care deeply about. As an ambassador for the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, I was flabbergasted to become aware of the stat that only seven per cent of children are in integrated schools.
Our kids Carla and Rossa are neither Catholic or Protestant, they're just good kids with good values. They haven't a clue about the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant and that's the way it should be at their age.
My old school Glengormley High are the latest to be pushing to become an official integrated school and I'm right behind them. There's roughly 1,000 pupils at the school and they're going through the process of a ballot to decide if it will go ahead and I would plead with every parent to use their vote so they can make this happen.
When you consider that at the moment the vast majority of kids going to the school are from a Protestant background, it would be a massive statement to the community and the whole country if this was to become an integrated school.
Full credit to the principal Ricky Massey because since he has gone to the school he has turned it around.
I did quite well academically but after I left the school started to get a poor reputation for bullying and the academic results dropped but last year they had their best GCSE results ever and they've more trying to enrol in the school than ever.
Now they're looking to become an integrated school which is terrific. I know there is some opposition but that seems to be mainly from those with no connection to the school.
My integrated education came through boxing. All the Catholic friends I had were made through the sport. Training at times in the New Lodge at the Holy Family club with Gerry Storey, going into nationalist areas to clubs and competing or sparring was all good for me because it opened my eyes to see that people are no different just because they come from a different background.
My attitude towards Catholics could have been very different if it hadn't been for boxing. At the time I was also playing football for Loughside Boys in the Down and Connor League. We were the only Protestant team and there's no doubt that all the other teams used to love playing us - they kicked lumps out of us because of where we came from.
You can imagine the reaction of most of the boys. We had to stand up for ourselves. If that had been my only experience of interacting with Catholics as well as seeing riots outside my home in Tigers Bay, I would easily have had a different perspective.
But boxing showed me that I could have Catholic friends and that understanding and impression on young minds is crucial for our community because there are enough people who still stir up sectarian bigotry for their own end.
Even if some people have genuine reasons for not wanting integrated education, they must surely see the benefits for Northern Ireland to become a society were there is genuine respect for each other.
So, come on Glengormley High - show the country the way forward.