Residential segregation in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics has not increased for at least 15 years and probably has remained stable for an even longer period.
24 May 2006
Segregation not increasing
Residential segregation in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics has not increased for at least 15 years and probably has remained stable for an even longer period. The situation may even be improving. These are the conclusions of new research published by academics Ian Shuttleworth and Chris Lloyd from the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen's University. The findings, which are based on an analysis of the 2001 Census results, challenge the common perception that during the 1990's, despite ceasefires and the Belfast Agreement, residential segregation was increasing.
The research appears in an article 'Are Northern Ireland's Two Communities Dividing? - Evidence from the 2001 Census' published this week in Shared Space, the research journal of the NI Community Relations Council.
'There have been very few analyses of residential segregation using the 2001 Census of Population,' according to the researchers. 'The news of stable, or possibly declining residential segregation has been notable by its absence. There is however a strong and growing evidence base that the 1990's did not see a widespread widening of the divide between Catholics and Protestants, and this finding is significant for politicians and the public alike since it runs counter to many of the perceptions that were fostered at and before the time that the 2001 Census results were released.'
'Our main conclusion', they say, 'is that in 2001 we were living in a more residentially segregated society than in 1971 but not markedly more segregated than in 1991.'
Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council, in welcoming the findings said, 'After over thirty-five years of extreme violence and communal conflict it is not surprising that we have still have a high degree of residential segregation. But this new research gives hope and encouragement to community relations workers who have for many years have been trying to rebuild confidence in sharing rather than separation.'
For further information contact
Ray Mullan at the Community Relations Council, 9022 7500.
Note for Editors:
Ian Shuttleworth and Chris Lloyd's article appears in Issue 2 of Shared Space, a research journal on peace, conflict and community relations, published this week by the Community Relations Council. Other articles include Interface Violence in East Belfast during 2002, Minority Ethnic Women Entrepreneurs, New Patterns of Migration to Northern Ireland and Applying Social Capital Theory to Northern Ireland. Printed copies are available from the Council (tel 9022 7555) and will be available shortly on the CRC website www.nicrc.org.uk