Fear 'failure awaits' Protestant boys

Fear 'failure awaits' Protestant boys

A report has described the serious educational underachievement of Protestant boys from disadvantaged backgrounds as a "seedbed for trouble".

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?"

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