Centre for the Study of Conflict
School of History, Philosophy and Politics,
Faculty of Humanities, University of Ulster
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Disability and Religion In Northern Ireland
by Martin Melaugh
Out of Print
Disability and Religion In Northern Ireland
by Martin Melaugh
Centre for the Study of Conflict
The Centre for the Study of Conflict is a research centre based in the University of Ulster. Its main work is the promotion and encouragement of research on the community conflict and to this end it concentrates on practical issues to do with institutional and community structures and change. It publishes papers and books arising out of this work including: a series of research papers particularly designed to make available research data and reports; a series of Majority-Minority reports; and a series of occasional papers by distinguished academics in the field of conflict. It has recently published a Register of Research on Northern Ireland that has been widely praised, and a termly newsletter on current research called Research Briefing.
During June of 1994 the Centre published a series of six research reports and papers on aspects of the Northern Ireland conflict. These publications represent the results of some of the most recent work of the Centre as well as a reprint of an earlier report still much in demand. The reports published in June were: the extensive evaluation work of Colin Knox and his colleagues on the Community Relations and Local Government initiative, a major experiment in the promotion and encouragement of inter-community activity through the medium of district councils; a ground-breaking report by Valerie Morgan and Grace Fraser (carried out in association with the Centre for Research on Women) called The Company We Keep: Women, Community and Organisations, on the role and influence and cross-community activities of women in small towns and rural communities; the first in a new series of reports on the concept and experience of alienation, called Protestant Alienation in Northern Ireland; the most recent Majority-Minority report (joining earlier reports on education and on employment and unemployment) this one by Martin Melaugh on Housing and Religion in Northern Ireland; a paper by Ed Cairns on Psychology and the Northern Ireland Conflict, one in the series of occasional papers written by distinguished scholars. Finally, a reprint of the much discussed report by Duncan Morrow and his colleagues on The Churches and Inter-community Relationships first published in 1991.
A second new series of reports will be published early in 1995 on topics that will include policing a divided society, education for mutual understanding, inter-faith marriages, sport and a divided society, and community development.
This report is based on a secondary analysis of the database on disability in Northern Ireland compiled by the Policy Planning and Research Unit (PPRU - part of the Department of Finance and Personnel, DFP). The report was commissioned from the Centre for the Study of Conflict by the Central Community Relations Unit (CCRU - also part of the DFP) with the aim of adding to the available information on the extent and nature of disability in the two religious communities in Northern Ireland.
PPRU is in the process of publishing six reports based on the Disability Survey. Full technical information concerning the methodology of the Survey is given in these reports. The only discussion of methodology in the present report relates to the calculation of prevalence of disability among Protestants and Catholics.
The Centre for the Study of Conflict is grateful to a number of people who provided assistance during the production of this report. Dr Dennis McCoy of CCRU facilitated contact with PPRU statisticians and, on the basis of his experience in this area, gave guidance on the principal issues of concern. He also read and commented on earlier drafts. Dr Eddie Rooney and Maggie Smith of PPRU gave advice on the approach to be adopted and also commented on drafts. Peter Robinson and Bernadette Duffy of PPRU dealt with a number of detailed requests for information and helped in the process of extracting the data from the main database. Michael Beare, of the Information Technology Unit at PPRU, and Brendan O'Kane, of Computer Services at the University of Ulster, both helped with the technical process of transferring the data. Ciarán &0acute; Maoláin provided editorial assistance. The author wishes to express his thanks to all who assisted. Any shortcomings remain the responsibility of the author.
The report is in six sections. Section One contains an introduction which provides basic information from the PPRU reports broken down by religion. Section Two considers disability among adult Catholics and adult Protestants while Section Three provides a similar analysis for children. Section Four looks at the prevalence of disability in Northern Ireland for the two main religious groups. Section Five considers the circumstances and characteristics of disabled people and their households. Section Six briefly considers possible reasons for apparent differences in the experience of disability between the two main communities in Northern Ireland.
The work on this report was funded by CCRU and PPRU.
The information on disability and religion contained in this report is based on a secondary analysis of a large dataset held by the Policy Planning and Research Unit (PPRU), part of the Department of Finance and Personnel. The data was obtained through a large-scale survey of the Northern Ireland population carried out during 1990. This Northern Ireland study was similar in many respects to the set of four surveys carried out by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS) in England, Scotland and Wales between 1985 and 1988 (OPCS 1988). PPRU is in the process of publishing six reports on aspects of the Northern Ireland survey data (see Appendix 1.1).
This report has two main aims. The first is to provide a descriptive account of the level of disability among Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. This descriptive account is contained in the next three sections of the report, which consider the extent and nature of disability among adults and children and also the prevalence of disability among the Northern Ireland population. The approach adopted for this part of the report is similar to that used in the PPRU reports. The second aim is to consider some of the socioeconomic characteristics of disabled adults and their households and to offer some possible explanations for the observed differentials in the incidence and severity of disability. The later sections of the report deal with these issues. To keep the content of the body of the report to a minimum a number of tables and other related material are presented in appendixes.
Information about fieldwork and sampling procedures for the collection of the original data is contained in appendixes to the published PPRU reports (see for example Appendixes One to Four in McCoy & Smith 1992). These appendixes also contain information on the various definitions of disability and how the disability severity categories were decided upon. This information is not repeated in this report. The analysis contained in the following sections made use of the system for classifying variables adopted in the PPRU reports, but it was necessary to merge a number of the categories of some variables. This was done to provide sufficient cases to allow the additional crosstabulation into religion.
The responses to the question on religion used in the PPRU survey were classified into the following denominations: Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of Ireland, Methodist, Baptist, Free Presbyterian, Brethren, Protestant - not stated, Other Protestant, Other, and missing (no classification possible). As the main focus of the report was intended to be on the two main communities these denominations were classified into Catholic, Protestant, and Other. The category Protestant contains all those recorded as Presbyterian through to Other Protestant in the above list. The category Other contains those of other religions or of no religion. Most of the tables provide information broken down by Catholic and Protestant. The totals in these tables will therefore differ from the equivalent tables in the PPRU reports because of the absence of those classified as Other. As the numbers in the Other category are relatively small it should still be possible for the reader to compare tables from the PPRU reports with those in this report.
The report is divided into a number of sections. Section Two considers the level of disability among adult Catholics and Protestants while Section Three provides a similar breakdown for children. Section Four provides prevalence rates, standardised for age, for the estimated number of disabled people in the two communities. Section Five looks at some of the circumstances and characteristics of disabled adults and their households. The final section, Section Six, contains a brief discussion of some of the possible explanations for the observed differentials in disability between the two main communities. Appendixes and a bibliography are provided at the end of the report.
It must be noted that the information contained in this report is based on estimates of disability derived from survey responses. All surveys suffer from varying degrees of inaccuracy and this must be borne in mind when considering the tables in this report. Section Four of the report provides confidence limits for the estimates of prevalence rates that take account of the likely sampling error. The PPRU survey data nevertheless represents the best available source of information on disability in Northern Ireland.
Last Modified by Martin Melaugh :