Ten Years of Social Attitudes to Community Relations in Northern Ireland

Year published: 2001

Dr Joanne Hughes and Dr Caitlin Donnelly

Internal efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict can be considered at the macro, meso and micro levels. At the macro-political level, the British government, since the mid-1980s has directed significant effort towards reaching a balanced constitutional settlement that will appease both Unionists and Nationalists. Juxtaposed with this, a series of meso-level reforms have been introduced that aim to tackle inequality, disadvantage and other manifestations of a divided society (segregation, hostility and prejudice). Underpinning these developments has been a drive to improve relations at the micro-level between the main Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland. This report provides a résumé of changes in the political and infra-structural context over the last decade and notes some of the implications for community relations policy and practice. Specific emphasis is placed on the period following the signing of the Belfast Agreement which has seen the most profound reform in Northern Ireland for almost 30 years.