Fear 'failure awaits' Protestant boys

Published Thursday, 03 April 2014
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A report has described the serious educational underachievement of Protestant boys from disadvantaged backgrounds as a "seedbed for trouble".

Fear 'failure awaits' Protestant boys
The report looked at peace-building in Northern Ireland. (© Getty)

The independent Community Relations Council study highlighted the need to tackle the difficulties faced by schoolchildren from less well-off communities - especially among Protestants - to prevent long term social, economic and political issues from developing in the future.

It claimed that the latest Labour Force Survey figures show 24% of Protestants aged 16 to 24 are unemployed while the figure is 17% for their Catholic counterparts.

The report said Protestant boys with free school meal entitlements achieve less than any of the other main social groups in NI and are near the bottom when compared to groups in England.

It added: "Young Protestant males were much in evidence in the hyper-masculine confrontations with the police during the year, and in the subsequent court cases."

Violence against the police was also highlighted as a cause for concern in the report.

It said the PSNI are being used as "human shock absorbers" for failure elsewhere, amid a further claim that a lack of trust in politics has resulted in a lack of progress elsewhere - and that the moral basis for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement has "evaporated".

"Violence against police has become once more accepted as part of life whether in the form of an under-car bomb planted by dissident republicans or street violence by loyalist protestors," it said.

But it also pointed out that the "grassroots impulse for reconciliation remains strong" and mentioned the 2013 City of Culture as a more positive vision of post-conflict society in NI.

Dr Paul Nolan, who wrote the Peace Monitoring Report, said: "The last year or so has made it abundantly clear that healing and reconciliation is needed more than ever.

"Twenty years on from the ceasefires Northern Ireland remains a very deeply divided society and those divisions have played out on the ground in recent times in a dangerous and destabilising way.

"In some ways huge progress has been made. Levels of violence are at their lowest levels for forty years. And the progress is not just to do with the absence of violence.

"Throughout 2013 during its year as City of Culture Derry-Londonderry presented a vision of what a post-conflict society might look like.

"These two realities of hope and division co-exist in Northern Ireland and run alongside each other in ways that can be difficult to understand. How do we know which one is stronger? Is Northern Ireland fated to backslide, or is there a positive momentum that can keep moving it forwards?"

© UTV News
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12 Comments
S.B. in Belfast wrote (260 days ago):
So tell us something new, it's not rocket science. While Loyalist paramilitaries continue to rule by fear and wreck Protestant working class communities through drugs and crime young people there will struggle. While Unionist politicians continue to tell them that the only things that matter in their lives are flags, parades and Lambeg drums these kids will struggle when it dawns on them later that they have no qualifications and can't get jobs. Many young Protestants are falling into the hands of the UVF and UDA at a young age and it's these kids whose lives are ruined NOT the Godfathers who use them. It's not John O'Dowd who the media should be questioning; they should have the DUP, UUP, UDA and UVF in front of them demanding answers.
James Lamb in Pittsburgh wrote (261 days ago):
Remove these boys (and girls), Catholic and Protestant, from their own dysfunctional comfort zones--temporarily. Locate them in places that will accept them, validate them, train them, and transform them. They'll return to NI employable, ready to take their place in a post-conflict civil society.
Taxi Paul in Belfast wrote (261 days ago):
The larger percentage of the reason for these figures is poor representation both political and legal. Another significant reason is the substandard educational system with no facitity for getting rid of substandard teachers. I attended a state school that is currently near the bottom of the league tables. I got an A in Maths, a B in history and was able to spell fudge with the rest of my results. The following year at Downpatrick College I got 8 A grades. In over 20 years that shool has not improved. I sometimes think many in society overthink these issues. When the problems with education, heath and welfare are properly tackled society will improve.
Paul in Ireland wrote (261 days ago):
What has religion got to do with results at school?? Only in the North they would use religion this way. So ridiculous.
Marie in Belfast wrote (261 days ago):
Also I find the fact that these figures/statistics being based on whether a child claims free school meals absolutely repulsive. Being from a working class family and claiming free school meals isn't a testament that you will fail educationally so I don't think it should even be suggested at as it reeks of self fulfilling prophecies.
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