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'Community Relations' by A.M. Gallagher (1993), in, Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland: The Third Report



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Text: A. M. Gallagher ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna

The following chapter has been contributed by the author A. M. Gallagher with the permission of the publishers, Blackstaff Press. The views expressed in this chapter do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.

scanned image of front cover This chapter is taken from:

Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland:
The Third Report

Edited by Peter Stringer and Gillian Robinson (1993)
ISBN 0 85640 512 4 Paperback 177pp

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This chapter is copyright A. M. Gallagher, 1993 and is included on the CAIN site by permission of the publisher, Blackstaff Press. You may not edit, adapt, or redistribute changed versions of this for other than your personal use without the express written permission of the author and publisher. Redistribution for commercial purposes is not permitted.


Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland
The Third Report, 1992-1993

Contents

The Contributors
Introduction
PETER STRINGER
1Religious Belief and Behaviour
STEVE BRUCE AND FIONA ALDERDICE
2 The Gift of Charity
IAIN MACAULAY
3Community Relations
A.M. GALLAGHER
4Women's Rights or Responsibilities? Reconciling the Demands of Home and Work
CELIA DAVIES AND AINE DOWNEY
5Employment Relations and Attitudes to Work
BOYD BLACK
6Nutrition and Health in Northern Ireland
M. E. BARKER AND K. A. THOMPSON
7Who cares for the National Health Service?
RONA CAMPBELL AND GILLIAN ROBINSON
Appendix I Technical Details of the Survey
KEVIN SWEENEY
Appendix 2 Notes on the Tabulations
Appendix 3 The Questionnaire
Subject Index


COMMUNITY RELATIONS
by
A.M. Gallagher


Sub headings
Introduction
Perceptions of Community Relations
Social Identity
Attitudes to Contact between Catholics and Protestants
Attitudes to Fair Employment
Education
Attitudes to the Police and Security Forces
Trust in Government and Social Institutions
Conclusion
References

In the late 1980s, government policy on community relations in Northern Ireland had three main aims: to increase the extent of contact between Catholics and Protestants; to encourage a greater mutual understanding of, and respect for, their different cultures and traditions; and to ensure that everyone might enjoy equality of opportunity and equity of treatment (CCRU, 1991).

In line with these aims, a number of programmes were introduced. In 1987, the Central Community Relations Unit (CCRU) was established to advise the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to coordinate activity within government departments and to sponsor policies designed to improve community relations. In the same year, the Department of Education introduced the Cross-community Contact Scheme. It was intended to encourage work between schools, youth clubs and community groups, across the religious divide. Protestant-Catholic contact programmes have also been encouraged under the Spirit of Enniskillen scheme, and by voluntary agencies such as the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust (McCartney, 1990) and Co-operation North (Murray and O'Neill, 1991).

The Education Reform (Northern Ireland) Order (1989) gave the government a responsibility for supporting initiatives to develop integrated schools. Recognising that, for the foreseeable future, most pupils in Northern Ireland would still be educated in schools segregated by religion, the order introduced cross-curricular themes on Education for Mutual Understanding (EMU) and Cultural Heritage. A theme of cultural pluralism is also pursued through the Cultural Traditions Group, which has been established as part of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council (Hayes, 1991). In 1989, the government introduced financial support to district councils for community relations programmes.

Measures to promote equity of treatment include economic and social programmes that are targeted on areas of special need, such as the Making Belfast Work initiative, and the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act (1989). The Act requires employers to monitor the religious composition of their work forces, and to submit annual returns on it to the Fair Employment Commission (FEC). In 1991, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced that targeting social need was to be a priority for public expenditure in Northern Ireland, alongside the priorities of security and a strengthening of the economy (Brooke, 1991). The aim of the initiative is to focus government policies and programmes more sharply on areas or sections of the community that suffer the highest levels of disadvantage and deprivation. By this means, it is intended to reduce social and economic differences between Protestants and Catholics. As a part of this initiative, government departments are required to monitor the impact of their policies on each of the communities.

It will be some time before the specific impact of these programmes and initiatives can be assessed, though most are currently being evaluated. Nevertheless, the first three Social Attitudes surveys do already provide some opportunity to assess changes in perceptions of, and attitudes to, community relations. This chapter examines the evidence for change, by taking a broad look at the wide range of issues of community relations with which the first three surveys have dealt. Findings from all three surveys to date will be used.

The chapter begins by examining perceptions of the state of community relations, and patterns of social identity and affiliation. It looks at attitudes to, and experience of, Protestant-Catholic contact in a number of areas of social life. The next two sections provide a more focused examination of attitudes to specific policies on fair employment and education; they are followed by an assessment of perceptions of equity in public bodies, and of trust in government. The final part of the chapter briefly examines evidence on issues to do with justice.


PERCEPTIONS OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS

In a survey in Northern Ireland carried out in 1968, just as the present 'troubles' were beginning, Rose (1971) asked his respondents whether they felt that relations between Protestants and Catholics were better than, worse than, or about the same as they had been five years previously. The question was subsequently asked in a survey in 1986 (Smith, 1987), and in the 1989 and 1991 Social Attitudes surveys.

RESPONDENTS' PERCEPTIONS OF RELATIONS BETWEEN PROTESTANTS AND CATHOLICS NOW
COMPARED TO FIVE YEARS AGO

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
Better
About the same
Worse
Better
About the same
Worse
1968[1]
65
27
4
56
35
7
1986[2]
9
45
46
11
41
47
1989
23
44
31
20
50
26
1991
31
50
16
28
53
15
[1] Rose, 1971.
[2] Smith, 1987.

In 1968, a majority of respondents felt that relations between Protestants and Catholics had improved in the previous five years, a perception that was undoubtedly shattered by the rise in violence of the 1970s. By 1986, in the aftermath of the hunger-strikes, the consequent emergence of Sinn Féin as a political force and protests over the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, optimism had largely been reversed. Then, only 1 in 10 respondents believed that community relations were improving.

By 1989 and 1991, however, optimism seemed to be returning. According to the most recent, 1991, survey, 3 in 10 respondents see community relations as improving, and there has been a large decline in the proportion of those who believe that community relations are getting worse. In 1989 and 1991, respondents were also asked whether they thought that relations between Protestants and Catholics would be better, worse, or about the same in five years' time. Their replies confirm a picture of rising optimism.

RESPONDENTS' PERCEPTIONS OF RELATIONS BETWEEN PROTESTANTS AND CATHOLICS IN FIVE YEARS' TIME

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
Better
About the same
Worse
Better
About the same
Worse
1989
30
51
16
22
56
16
1991
40
50
4
29
55
10

This picture should be seen, however, against the background of a continued perception of religious intolerance in Northern Ireland. Although only one-tenth of Catholics and one-fifth of Protestants in 1989 and 1991 admit to any personal prejudice against people of a different religion, large majorities of both groups feel that there is prejudice against Catholics and against Protestants. Similarly, over 80 per cent of each group say that religion will always make a difference to the way people feel about each other in Northern Ireland. As reported later in this chapter, the main dimensions of identity remain as divisive as ever in Northern Ireland.

RESPONDENTS' PERCEPTIONS OF PREJUDICE AGAINST THE TWO COMMUNITIES

.
Catholic
Protestant
Against Catholics
Some
89
63
Hardly any
8
32
Against Protestants
Some
71
67
Hardly any
25
28



SOCIAL IDENTITY

Patterns of social affiliation or identity are one means of assessing divisions within a society. In Northern Ireland, the dimensions of religious affiliation, political partisanship and national identity were measured by the Social Attitudes survey.

Two striking findings from the 1989 survey are the high level of identification with British political parties, in particular with the Conservative Party; and the high proportion of respondents who identify with no political party (Curtice and Gallagher, 1990). Over the three survey years to date, however, both these patterns of identification have declined. In 1989, 25 per cent of respondents in Northern Ireland identified with one of the three main British political parties, with 18 per cent identifying with the Conservative Party. By 1991, the level of identification with British parties has declined to 21 per cent, with Conservative support now running at 13 per cent. There is no evidence of people increasingly turning towards British political parties in preference to local parties. When respondents were asked to indicate their preference for a Northern Ireland party, however, there was some evidence of movement.

RESPONDENTS' POLITICAL PARTISANSHIP, NORTHERN IRELAND PARTIES ONLY

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1989
%
1990
%
1991
%
1989
%
1990
%
1991
%
Official Unionist
1
-
-
52
54
51
Democratic Unionist
1
-
-
19
16
14
Alliance
7
8
9
10
8
9
SDLP
44
43
49
-
-
1
Sinn Féin
7
7
10
-
-
-
Workers' Party
5
3
2
1
1
1
Other Party
1
2
3
2
3
3
None
28
23
16
10
13
13
Other/Don't know/No response
7
14
12
7
5
7

There is still a religious basis to political partisanship. Only the Alliance Party attracts a significant degree of cross-community support. Whilst the proportion of Catholics identifying with no political party has declined between 1989 and 1991, the proportion among Protestants has increased slightly, apparently at the expense of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Moxon-Browne (1991) examined survey evidence on national identity in Northern Ireland over a 20-year period. In 1968, three labels of national identity, 'British', 'Irish' and 'Ulster', appeared to be of significance. Ten years later, these had collapsed into the two primary identities of 'British' and 'Irish'. On the basis of the present survey, there is no change. Two-thirds of Protestants, but only one-tenth of Catholics, describe themselves as 'British'; by contrast, 3 in 5 Catholics, but only 1 in 50 Protestants, describe themselves as 'Irish'. Although the 'Northern Irish' label attracts some respondents from each community, their number has remained largely unchanged over a number of years: about one-quarter of Protestants and one-seventh of Catholics opt for this identity.

The 1989 and 1990 surveys produced evidence of a decline in religious affiliation in Northern Ireland, even though religiosity is still much higher than in Britain (T. Gallagher, 1991). In 1989, 12 per cent of respondents say that they have no religious affiliation; in 1990, the proportion was 13 per cent. By 1991, by contrast, the figure has declined to 8 per cent - although it is still much higher than in the 1960s and 1970s (Rose, 1971; Moxon-Browne, 1983).


ATTITUDES TO CONTACT BETWEEN CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS

The 1989 Social Attitudes survey gives a mixed impression of attitudes to, and experience of, contact between Protestants and Catholics (Gallagher and Dunn, 1991). Although most people favour more cross-community contact in residential areas and workplaces, they suggest that cross-community contact is actually quite low in most areas of social life. There is a high level of endogamy. A majority of both Catholics and Protestants say that most or all of their relatives, friends and neighbours are of the same religion as themselves. The 1989 survey suggests that workplaces are the least segregated areas of social activity; even so, 44 per cent of Catholics and 42 per cent of Protestants say that all or most of their workmates are of the same religion as themselves. A similar homogeneity is evident in data from the monitoring returns of the FEC (FEC, 1991).

The pattern of a relatively low level of actual integration, alongside support for greater integration, is confirmed by the survey conducted in 1991. For example, whilst three-quarters of Catholics and two-thirds of Protestants say that they would prefer more cross-community contact in their neighbourhood, three-fifths of Catholics and two-thirds of Protestants say that all or most of their neighbours are of the same religion as themselves.

The 1989 results were interpreted as indicating a favourable climate for initiatives to encourage greater cross-community contact in Northern Ireland. In 1991, a number of new questions were asked which more directly addressed this issue. There is a high degree of support for proactive measures on community relations. Ninety per cent or more of respondents say that government and public bodies should do more to teach Catholic and Protestant children to have greater respect for each other, and should also do more to encourage better community relations generally, and to create integrated workplaces. Similarly, 90 per cent of Catholics and 80 per cent of Protestants say that government and public bodies should do more to integrate housing.

RESPONDENTS SAYING THAT GOVERNMENTS OR POLITICIANS SHOULD BE A LITTLE
OR MUCH MORE ACTIVE THAN NOW IN TRYING TO IMPROVE COMMUNITY RELATIONS

.
Catholic
%
Protestant
%
British governrnent
75
74
Irish government
72
56
Unionist politicians
77
77
Nationalist politicians
77
67

Respondents were asked how active they felt that the British and Irish governments, and unionist and nationalist politicians should be in trying to improve community relations. In each case, clear majorities support greater action on community relations, with the level of support being relatively low only among Protestants on the question of more activity by the Irish government. This is probably the result of suspicion on the part of Protestants about the role of the Irish government in Northern Ireland's affairs. It is noteworthy, nevertheless, that a clear majority of Protestants support more action, even by the Irish government.


ATTITUDES TO FAIR EMPLOYMENT

The issue of religious discrimination in employment is a long-standing one in Northern Ireland (see, for example, A.M. Gallagher, 1991; Cormack and Osborne, 1991). The Social Attitudes surveys conducted in 1989 and 1991 asked a series of questions on perceptions of discrimination in the labour market, some of which had been asked previously in Smith's (1987) survey. In addition, people's attitudes towards the religious monitoring of workforces were elicited.

Respondents were asked whether they felt that Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland had the same chance of obtaining a job or whether their chances were different. The pattern of responses is fairly consistent over time. While a majority of Catholics feel that the chances for the two groups of obtaining a job are different, a similar proportion of Protestants feel that the chances are the same.

Those who feel that the chances are different were asked which group was more likely to obtain a job. A majority of Catholics feel that equal opportunity does not exist in the labour market and that they bear the brunt of disadvantage. Protestant attitudes contrast with this view in two ways. The majority of Protestants feel that the labour market does provide equal opportunity; the minority of Protestants who feel that there are different chances of obtaining a job believe that in a segregated labour market each side looks after its own (Osborne, 1991). The increasing proportion of Protestants who point to a relative Catholic advantage in the labour market may mistakenly believe that the affirmative action measures permitted under the 1989 Fair Employment Act provide for positive discrimination in favour of Catholics only (Cassidy, 1991).

RESPONDENTS' VIEWS OF THE CHANCES OF PROTESTANTS AND CATHOLICS GETTING A JOB

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1986[1]
1989
1991
1986[1]
1989
1991
.
%
%
%
%
%
%
The same
26
30
29
68
60
62
Different
67
60
59
27
30
30

[1] Smith, 1987


IF THE CHANCES ARE DIFFERENT, WHICH GROUP DO RESPONDENTS PERCEIVE AS MORE LIKELY TO GET A JOB?

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1986[1]
1989
1991
1986[1]
1989
1991
.
%
%
%
%
%
%
Protestants
84
89
82
28
34
26
Catholics
-
1
2
25
43
49
Don't know/Depends
16
10
16
46
22
25

[1] Smith. 1987

The questions reported on so far in this section asked about the relative chances of Protestants and Catholics in the labour market. Respondents were also asked about the two communities' employment chances separately. They were told that some people think that many employers are more likely to give jobs to Protestants than to Catholics; they were asked whether they felt that this happened a lot, a little or hardly at all. A similar question was also asked, but with the suggestion that some people think many employers are more likely to give jobs to Catholics than to Protestants.

A majority of Catholics and of Protestants think that employers are more likely to give jobs to people who are the same religion as themselves. The proportion saying this rose over the two survey years. A higher proportion of Catholics than Protestants feel that this happens a lot. In 1989, just under half of Protestants and Catholics thought that some employers were more likely to give jobs to their co-religionists than to people of the opposite religion; in 1991, the proportion saying this has risen to about two-thirds.

RESPONDENTS AGREEING THAT EMPLOYERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO GIVE JOBS TO . . .

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1989
%
1991
%
1989
%
1991
%
. . . Protestants
…..
A lot
…..A little
…..Hardly at all
26
54
13
31
53
9
6
43
42
11
50
32
. . . Catholics
…..
A lot
…..A little
…..Hardly at all
6
43
42
9
57
25
13
44
33
13
54
26

There is evidence that, in the past, some people were prepared to justify differential opportunities in the labour market in Northern Ireland (Nelson, 1975). For this reason, respondents in 1991 were asked whether they believed that Protestants and Catholics who apply for the same job should have an equal chance. The results are unequivocal: 92 per cent of Catholics and 97 per cent of Protestants agree that there should be an equal chance.

The survey findings point to a perception in Northern Ireland that the labour market does not provide equal opportunities (even though this view is held to a different extent by Protestants and Catholics), and a consensus that each group should have the same chance of obtaining a job.

The Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act (1989) introduced a series of measures designed to combat discrimination in employment and to promote equal opportunity. There is now a statutory obligation on all but the smallest employers to monitor the religious composition of their workforces and submit annual monitoring returns to the FEC. At the time of the 1989 Social Attitudes survey, the measure was still under consideration by Parliament. Nevertheless, respondents that year were asked whether they supported or opposed a fair employment law which would require employers to keep records of their employees' religion and ensure that there was no discrimination. In 1991, the same question was asked, but this time referring to the Fair Employment Act.

In 1989, two-thirds of Catholics supported introduction of a fair employment law incorporating religious monitoring, whilst one-half of Protestants opposed it. By 1991, support for statutory monitoring has strengthened among Catholics: not only has the proportion expressing support for the law increased, but the proportion of those expressing strong support has risen from 47 per cent in 1989 to 67 per cent in 1991. Protestant opinion also shows considerably more support for statutory monitoring than in 1989, with the balance of opinion shifting clearly from opposition to support.

RESPONDENTS SAYING THEY SUPPORT OR OPPOSE THE FAIR EMPLOYMENT LAW
REQUIRING EMPLOYERS TO MONITOR EMPLOYEES' RELIGION

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1989
%
1991
%
1989
%
1991
%
Strongly support
47
67
20
31
Give some support
17
21
22
29
Oppose
27
7
49
34



EDUCATION

The Education Reform (Northern Ireland) Order (1989) incorporated many of the measures that had recently been established in England and Wales, such as a common curriculum and delegation of financial management to schools. There were also a number of different emphases, to take account of issues peculiar to the situation in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland reform committed the government to support initiatives to develop integrated schools, and made it possible for a denominational school to adopt integrated status through a parental vote. In addition, the proposed common curriculum includes two compulsory cross-curricular themes, each of which has a community relations dimension and is intended to reflect the cultural pluralism of Northern Ireland society.

In 1989 and 1991, two sets of questions on educational issues were asked: on mixed or integrated schools and on a plural curriculum. We have already seen that practically all respondents agree that government and public bodies should do more to teach Protestant and Catholic children to have greater respect for one another. Similarly, when asked whether they preferred more mixing or more separation in schools, a clear majority favour more mixing. Furthermore, two-thirds of Catholics and three-fifths of Protestants (according to both the 1989 and the 1991 findings) feel that the government should encourage mixed schooling. By contrast, about one-third feel that things should be left as they are; 5 per cent or fewer of Catholics and 9 per cent or fewer of Protestants feel that the government should discourage mixed schooling.

When respondents were asked whether they would prefer to send their children to a mixed-religion school or one with only pupils of their own religion, a more complex picture emerges. There is support for integration from about half of both Protestants and Catholics. The proportion who support the principle of integrated education is somewhat higher than the proportion who would opt to send their own children to an integrated school.

RESPONDENTS SAYING THEY FAVOUR MORE MIXING IN . . .

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1989
%
1991
%
1989
%
1991
%
. . . Primary schools
68
74
65
67
. . . Secondary schools
73
81
68
69



RESPONDENTS SAYING THEY WOULD PREFER TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO A SCHOOL THAT IS . . .

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1989
%
1991
%
1989
%
1991
%
. . . Own religion
37
42
41
45
. . . Mixed religion
54
49
52
50

Other questions on educational issues focused on the level of support for a plural curriculum in schools. Respondents were asked whether they agreed that all pupils in post-primary (that is, secondary and grammar) schools should have to study Irish as well as British history, Catholic and Protestant religious beliefs and the Irish language and culture. The same questions had been asked in 1989.

RESPONDENTS AGREEING THAT ALL SECONDARY AND GRAMMAR SCHOOL PUPILS SHOULD HAVE TO STUDY . . .

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1989
%
1991
%
1989
%
1991
%
. . . The history of:
……Northern Ireland
……Britain
……the Republic of Ireland
69
63
71
82
68
73
73
80
50
80
85
57
. . . Protestant religious beliefs
52
57
37
49
. . . Catholic religious beliefs
60
63
29
35
. . . Irish language and culture
59
64
23
18

Most respondents agree that history teaching should reflect the overlap of interests found in Northern Ireland. A clear majority of both Catholics and Protestants agree that all post-primary pupils should be taught the history of Northern Ireland. Most agree also that they should be taught the history of Britain and of the Republic of Ireland. But more Protestants than Catholics support the teaching of British history, and more Catholics than Protestants support the teaching of the history of the Irish Republic. For each of these three parts of the history curriculum, the level of support by both religious groups has risen between 1989 and 1991.

With regard to the teaching of religious beliefs, the level of support by both Protestants and Catholics has risen since 1989. However, only a minority of Protestants agree that all post-primary pupils should be taught Catholic religious beliefs. Nevertheless, the proportion of Protestants who disagree that Catholic religious beliefs should be taught to all post-primary school pupils has fallen from 52 per cent in 1989 to 42 per cent in 1991.

On the issue of teaching the Irish language and culture, however, Protestant opposition remains strong: only 18 per cent agree that they should be taught to all post-primary pupils.


ATTITUDES TO THE POLICE AND SECURITY FORCES

The 1990 Social Attitudes survey asked a number of questions on issues to do with justice and security (A.M. Gallagher, 1992; T. Gallagher, 1991; Brewer, 1992; Geary and Morison, 1992). A selection of these questions was asked again in 1991. The results serve to confirm the broad patterns identified in 1990. Catholics continue to feel that security measures are applied too rigorously (with the exception of controls on Protestant marches and demonstrations), whilst Protestants feel that they are not applied rigorously enough. Three-quarters of Catholics agree that the UDR should be abolished, whilst over 80 per cent of Protestants disagree. A similar polarity in perceptions between Protestants and Catholics was found when people were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the suggestion that 'the police and army get away with offences they commit': 70 per cent of Catholics agree with this statement, whilst a little over 60 per cent of Protestants disagree.

This broad correspondence of findings between the two survey years is found also in the case of answers to questions specifically about the RUC. In 1990, 63 per cent of Catholics and 53 per cent of Protestants agreed that it would be better for Northern Ireland if there were more Catholics in the RUC. By 1991, the level of agreement has risen slightly, to 67 per cent of Catholics and 57 per cent of Protestants. On the other hand, according to the 1991 survey, fewer feel that the RUC does a good job in controlling crime, whether this is sectarian or non-sectarian. Nevertheless, 70 per cent or more of Catholics and 90 per cent or more of Protestants do think that the RUC does a good job in controlling non-sectarian crime.

PERCENTAGE SAYING THE RUC DO A GOOD JOB IN CONTROLLING CRIME

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1990
%
1991
%
1990
%
1991
%
Non-sectarian crime
76
71
92
90
Sectarian crime
53
47
84
80

By contrast, whilst four-fifths of Protestants feel that the RUC does a good job in controlling sectarian crime, only half of Catholics share that belief.


TRUST IN GOVERNMENT AND SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS

In the 1991 survey, attitudes were elicited on the practices of a number of governmental and public bodies, and several other social institutions. The responses present a picture of perceived fairness and confidence, broadly consistent with the answers given in 1989.

Respondents were asked how much trust they would place in government to act in the best interest of Northern Ireland. Three scenarios were presented. They dealt with: trust in a British government, of any party, under the current system of direct rule; trust in a Stormont government under self-rule; trust in an Irish government, if there was a united Ireland.

A majority of Protestants place trust only in a Stormont government. But whilst in 1989 only one-third of Protestants would trust a British government, this proportion has risen to 40 per cent. By contrast, Catholics appear to place relatively little trust in any government. In 1991, for example, only one in five Catholics would trust a British government, only one in three would trust a Stormont government and fewer than half would trust even an Irish government to act in their best interests.

Two of the main findings of 1989, that there was no consensus around political arrangements and that there was general Catholic alienation from or disenchantment with the range of possible arrangements, remained valid in 1991. This conclusion is confirmed by people's views on which government they would side with if there was an argument between the British and Irish governments. Eighty per cent or more of Protestants say that they would take the British government's side, in comparison with only one-tenth of Catholics. Only 36 per cent of Catholics say that they would take the Irish government's side.

Respondents were asked whether they felt that a number of public institutions treated Protestants and Catholics fairly, or whether one group received better treatment than the other. There is a striking consistency in the responses in 1989 and 1991. Whilst a majority of Protestants feel that all these institutions provide equal treatment, there is a wider range of opinion among Catholics, their views effectively separating the institutions into three sets.

First, a clear majority of Catholics say that the National Health Service, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and government programmes for the unemployed provide equal treatment. In addition, three-quarters of Catholics say that the courts provide equal treatment when dealing with nonterrorist offences. By and large, this perception of equal treatment is shared by Protestants.

RESPONDENTS SAYING PROTESTANTS AND CATHOLICS ARE TREATED EQUALLY BY...

.
Catholic
Protestant
.
1989
%
1991
%
1989
%
1991
%
. . . The National Health Service in treating patients
94
92
86
88
. . . The courts in treating those accused of non-terrorist offences
76
80
84
87
. . . Government unemployment schemes in treating applicants for a place
81
75
70
68
. . . The NI Housing Executive in treating applicants for a home
71
63
64
63
. . . The courts in treating those accused of terrorist offences
54
52
79
79
. . . Central government in Stormont in treating job applicants
42
47
56
59
. . . Local district councils in treating job applicants
45
42
55
57
. . . The RUC in treating the public
38
39
71
71
. . . The army in treating the public
43
38
74
70
. . . The UDR in treating the public
22
20
62
57

Second, views among Catholics are more mixed when they relate to the way in which the courts deal with terrorist offences, and to how Stormont and local district councils deal with job applicants. In each of these cases, as many as one-half of Catholics say that equal treatment is provided, but about one-third say that these institutions treat Protestants better.

Third, the Catholic perception of the security forces is that they treat Protestants better. It is only in the case of the UDR, however, that a clear majority of Catholics (62 per cent) say that Protestants are treated better. Whilst a little under 20 per cent of Protestants agree that the RUC and army treat Protestants better, as many as 30 per cent think this of the UDR.

In 1991, some new questions were asked about people's confidence in a number of social institutions, such as the churches and the business community. For the present analysis, the responses to these questions were scored on a five-point scale: 'no confidence at all' scoring 0; 'very little confidence' 1; some confidence' 2; 'a great deal of confidence' 3; and 'complete confidence' 4. Average scores of confidence in each of six social institutions were calculated.

RESPONDENTS' AVERAGE CONFIDENCE, ON A SCALE OF 0 TO 4, IN . . .

.
Catholic
Protestant
. . . The churches and religious organisations
2.42
2.45
. . . Schools and the educational system
2.25
2.38
. . . The courts and the le al s stem
1.67
2.22
. . . Business and industry
1.85
2.10
. . . The civil service
l.57
2.04
. . . The Westminster parliament
1.40
2.05

Protestants and Catholics express the highest degree of confidence in the churches and religious organisations, followed by schools and the educational system. (There are, of course, parallel school systems in Northern Ireland for the two religious communities.) It is interesting that people express greatest confidence in the two main social institutions that underpin the division of Northern Ireland society. With the exception of these, Catholics express less confidence generally than do Protestants. This provides further confirmation of the Catholic alienation that has already been referred to. The relatively low confidence in the Westminster parliament among both Catholics and Protestants, and in the civil service among Protestants, is noteworthy.


CONCLUSION

This chapter has examined some evidence on attitudes to community relations in Northern Ireland over a three-year period. There has been an increase in community relations policy and activity; new legislation on fair employment and education; and the establishment of bodies, within and outside government, to sponsor and coordinate policies on community relations. The Social Attitudes survey provides an opportunity to assess some of the impact of this increased activity.

The climate for community relations initiatives in Northern Ireland continues to be positive. Perceptions of the state of relations between Protestants and Catholics are increasingly optimistic. A majority of the sample support measures to increase the level of contact between Protestants and Catholics, and say specifically that politicians and governments, both North and South, should do more to promote community relations.

There is support for particular measures that have been put into place in recent years. Two years after the 1989 Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act, a majority of Protestants and Catholics say that they support its principle of religious monitoring. This represents an increase in support since 1989 and, among Protestants, a change in opinion. There is also evidence of increasing support for a plural curriculum in schools, particularly in the teaching of history.

Nevertheless, although most of the sample say that they favour contact between Protestants and Catholics, they also indicate that they have relatively little contact with people of the opposite religion. While most people say that the government should encourage mixed schools in Northern Ireland, a significantly smaller proportion indicate that they would send their children to such schools (although this still amounts to up to half of the sample). On the issue of a plural curriculum, there is evidence of Protestant reluctance to see the teaching of Catholic religious beliefs to all pupils, and continued Protestant opposition to the compulsory teaching of Irish language and culture. The widely differing views of Protestants and Catholics in 1990 on the impartiality of the security forces and security policy are confirmed by the 1991 survey.

There continues to be a deep cleavage in Northern Ireland society, centred around religion. The division has its impact on social, political and national identities. There is no evidence of it being diluted by a swing in political partisanship towards British political parties. Indeed, people in Northern Ireland are still politically alienated, even though this shows itself rather differently in the two communities. Among Protestants, the alienation is from Westminster, although in a 'crunch' situation most Protestants would line up with the British in preference to the Irish government. Among Catholics, on the other hand, there is continued evidence of political alienation from all the governmental arrangements that seem to lie within the realms of possibility. For both groups, this pattern of alienation is most starkly illustrated by the finding that, amongst all institutions, it is the churches and the schools that win the greatest confidence. Depending on one's viewpoint, these institutions represent either the underpinning of a segregated society or the consequences of segregation.

The findings of the first three Social Attitudes surveys in Northern Ireland portray a somewhat paradoxical picture. On the one hand, initiatives in community relations can be seen to have had a positive impact, in terms both of particular measures and of the broad climate of opinion. On the other hand, a deep division continues to exist in Northern Ireland society. While the surveys demonstrate that positive change is possible, they also remind us of the extent of the problem that remains to be addressed.


REFERENCES

BREWER, J. 1992. 'The public and the police', in P. Stringer and G. Robinson (eds.), Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland: the second report, 1991-92, Blackstaff, Belfast.

BROOKE, P. 1991. 'Opening address', in CCRU, The Review of Employment Equity in Northern Ireland, CCRU, Belfast.

CASSIDY, F.1991. Affirmative Action Options. Fair Employment Commission paper presented to the Industrial Relations Services Conference, Belfast.

CENTRAL COMMUNITY RELATIONS UNIT (CCRU). 1991. Community Relations in Northern Ireland, Central Community Relations Unit, Belfast.

CORMACK, R.J. and OSBORNE, R.D. (eds.). 1991. Discrimination and Public Policy in Northern Ireland, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

CURTICE, J. and GALLAGHER, T. 1990. 'The Northern Irish dimension', in R. Jowell, S. Witherspoon and L. Brook (eds.), British Social Attitudes: the 7th report, Cower, Aldershot.

FAIR EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION (FEC). 1991. A Profile of the Workforce in Northern Ireland: a summary of the 1990 monitoring returns, Fair Employment Commission, Belfast.

GALLAGHER, A.M. 1991. Majority Minority Review 2: Employment, Unemployment and Religion in Northern Ireland, University of Ulster, Coleraine.

GALLAGHER, A.M. 1992. 'Attitudes to civil liberties', in P. Stringer and C. Robinson (eds.), Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland: the second report, 1991-92, Blackstaff, Belfast.

GALLAGHER, A.M. and DUNN, 5. 1991. 'Community relations in Northern Ireland: attitudes to contact and integration', in P. Stringer and G. Robinson (eds.), Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland, 1990-91 Edition, Blackstaff, Belfast.

GALLAGHER, T. [A.M. GALLAGHER]. 1991. 'Justice and the law in Northern Ireland', in R. Jowell, L. Brook and B. Taylor (eds.), British Social Attitudes: the 8th report, Cower, Aldershot.

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HAYES, M. 1991. Whither Cultural Diversity?, Community Relations Council, Belfast. MCCARTNEY, C. 1990. Making Ripples: an evaluation of the inter-community Contact Grant Scheme of the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust, University of Ulster, Coleraine.

MOXON-BROWNE, E. 1983. Nation, Class and Creed in Northern Ireland, Cower, Aldershot.

MOXON-BROWNE, E. 1991. 'National identity in Northern Ireland', in P. Stringer and G. Robinson (eds.), Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland, 1990-91 Edition, Blackstalf, Belfast.

MI/RRAY, D. and O'NEILL, J. 1991. Peace Building in a Political Impasse: cross border links in Ireland, University of Ulster, Coleraine.

NELSON, 5. 1975. 'Protestant "Ideology" considered: the case of "discrimination"', in I. Crewe (ed.), British Political Sociology Yearbook Volume 2: the politics of race, Croom Helm, London.

OSBORNE, R.D. 1991. 'Discrimination and fair employment', in P. Stringer and G. Robinson (eds.), Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland, 1990-91 Edition, Blackstaff, Belfast.

ROSE, R. 1971. Governing Without Consensus, Faber, London.

SMITH, D. J. 1987. Equality and Inequality in Northern Ireland Part 3: perceptions and views, Policy Studies Institute, London.


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


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