Segregation growing in North, report on reunification issues finds

Warning hard border or quick referendum on Irish unity would bring back violence

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/segregation-growing-in-north-report-on-reunification-issues-finds-1.3797214

Young people in Northern Ireland have less interaction with others of different race, religion and age: “This environment is ripe for fostering extreme beliefs, actions and violence.” Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Young people in Northern Ireland have less interaction with others of different race, religion and age: “This environment is ripe for fostering extreme beliefs, actions and violence.” Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Young people in Northern Ireland live in more segregated communities with less diversity than previous generations, a report on the potential reunification of Ireland after Brexit has said.

The report, from two academics who work with Unesco – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – and a Fianna Fáil Senator also says greater integration in schooling, housing and employment is needed in Northern Ireland.

Senator Mark Daly, Prof Pat Dolan and Prof Mark Brennan argue in the report that the return of a hard border or a “rush” to a hastily arranged referendum on Irish unity would lead to a return of violence.

“All indications are that without direct efforts to engage youth and citizens of all backgrounds, there will also be a return to violence in the event of a rushed Border poll on the island of Ireland,” the report says. “The only question in both scenarios will be the scale of the violence.”

Disadvantage in loyalist and republican communities needs to be tackled, it adds.

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Integrated schooling

Prof Dolan and Prof Brennan say greater integration on a number of fronts is needed in anticipation of a future referendum on unity.

“Programme and policymakers need to establish a basis for cross-society interaction, integrated schooling, and integrated existences (housing, work, and other settings),” they say.

“It is only through this sort of interaction, communication and experience sharing that all sides realise common, general needs as well as the fact that they have nothing to fear from the ‘other’ side.”

The report says that, at present, young people in Northern Ireland have less communication and interaction with others of different race, religion and age.

“This environment is ripe for fostering extreme beliefs, actions and violence. Programme and policymakers need to better facilitate cross-community communication and interaction between these segregated localities,” the report adds.

 

“Interaction is needed among not only the traditional Protestant-Catholic divide, but also with other groups such as immigrants, refugees and others. All have similar common general needs.

“We are at a point in history where the road diverges in one direction to conflict and in the other a more stable, civil society.”

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Hard border in Ireland would trigger return to violence, says report

Research by Unesco chiefs highlights risk to peace in event of rushed border poll

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/18/hard-border-in-ireland-would-trigger-return-to-violence-says-report

<!– [if IE 9]><![endif]–> A young protester writes slogans on a mock border wall and customs checkpoint in Louth, Ireland, in January
A young protester writes slogans on a mock border wall in Louth, Ireland, in January. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

There will be a return to violence in Northern Ireland if there is any infrastructure installed on the border, an in-depth report on youth and peace in the region has concluded.

“The only issue is the scale of the violence,” says the research conducted by two Unesco chairmen.

The 377-page report notes that youth in Northern Ireland have not had to endure the violence of previous generations but they still live in a “post-conflict environment with residual issues such as levels of deprivation, covert ongoing paramilitary activity, and sporadic violence”.

“In as little as six weeks it is possible that a hard border could materialise due to a no-deal Brexit, triggering a return to violence in Northern Ireland.

“All indications are that without direct efforts to engage youth and citizens of all backgrounds, there will also be a return to violence in the event of rushed border poll on the island of Ireland,” says the report.

Its publication comes hours after a pipe bomb exploded and homes evacuated in south Armagh and weeks after a car bomb went off in Derry.

The report was compiled by Mark Daly, a senator with Ireland’s main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, with research conducted conducted by Pat Dolan, the professor of leadership and community development at the Pennsylvania Stat University, and Mark Brennan, the director of the Unesco child and family research centre of the National University of Ireland.

They are co-founders of the global network of Unesco chairs on children, youth and community.

The report was commissioned amid fears that the conditions would be quickly set for a referendum on a united Ireland if any infrastructure was installed around the border regions.

Daly said while there was no issue of a border poll being imminent it was important to know what was at stake in the event there was one. “You have to be prepared. Brexit is the perfect example of what happens when you are not prepared,” he said.

The report says the consequences of Brexit will be universally felt. “The challenge for us all is to make sure the peace process is not jeopardised by a return to a hard border due to Brexit or a premature border poll,” said Daly.

“The peace won by previous generations must not be jeopardised by the current generations and that peace must be passed on intact for generations to come.”

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Brexit: Violence if hard Irish border returns report claims

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47272124

Border sign in Northern IrelandImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Both EU leaders and the Irish government are committed to avoiding the return of a “hard border” after Brexit

There would be a return to violence in Northern Ireland if there was a hard Irish border due to a no-deal Brexit or a rushed border poll, claims a report.

The new research was conducted by Irish Senator Mark Daly in conjunction with two UNESCO chairmen.

Mr Daly said the report “highlights the responsibility of the UK government to stand by the backstop”.

Both the EU and the UK government have said they are committed to avoiding the return of a hard border after Brexit.

Mr Daly said the EU needed to ensure there was no return to a hard border “in light” of the findings included in his report.

The research was conducted by Mr Daly in conjunction with UNESCO chairmen – Prof Pat Dolan and Prof Mark Brennan – with input from Michael Ortiz who served as the first US diplomat on the issue of countering violent extremism in the US State Department during the Obama administration.

The report states: “In as little as six weeks it is possible that a hard border could materialise due to a no-deal Brexit, triggering a return to violence in Northern Ireland.”

The authors said the only question was about the scale of the violence.

It highlights the issue of “loss of memory of harm” among the “Agreement generation”, a term applied to the generation born just before or since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The report states that many young people have no first-hand knowledge “of the horror of the Troubles or the devastating consequences of violence”.

It adds that some have “been given a romanticised account of the conflict”.

The PSNI is to recruit 102 extra officers by April in preparation for Brexit.

‘Community level leadership’

The research also “emphasises the serious problems facing the present generation, especially those who live in the most disadvantaged loyalist and republican areas”.

The report suggests a “key element in preventing violent extremism is the role of community level leadership, which can counteract the emergence of violence by providing a space for interaction between different traditions”.

The report also acknowledges “the positive work done in Northern Ireland by many individuals, groups, schools and civil society organisations”.

UK and EU flagsImage copyright PA
Image caption The UK remains on course to leave the EU on 29 March

The withdrawal agreement struck by the EU and Prime Minister Theresa May – but rejected by Parliament in January – contains an insurance policy known as the backstop.

It is designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit “under all circumstances”.

The backstop is opposed by many backbench Conservative MPs as well as the DUP, which opposes Northern Ireland continuing to follow some EU rules and the resulting regulatory divergence with the rest of the UK.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has also expressed unease that the UK could be tied into the backstop indefinitely.

The Republic of Ireland and EU have said there can be no renegotiation of the Brexit deal or the backstop.

This month, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said there will not be a hard border on the island of Ireland, even in a no-deal scenario.

The chairman of the European Research Group said there may be changes but there would “not be a hard border”.

The DUP’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson has previously said “good luck to them [the EU] if they think they can put a hard border up”.

His pledge came as Ireland’s Europe Minister Helen McEntee insisted that her government would “absolutely not” renegotiate the backstop.

In December last year, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed it would recruit an extra 308 officers and staff by April 2020 after receiving £16.5m in Brexit funding from the Treasury.

The force bid for the additional resources in light of the potential challenges posed in policing the border after the UK’s EU exit.

Monday’s report is based on one of the recommendations in a report in 2017 adopted by the Irish Parliamentary Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement

That report – entitled Brexit and the Future of Ireland: Uniting Ireland and its People in Peace and Prosperity – was also compiled by Senator Daly.

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Young people in the North could be ‘groomed into violent activity’ if hard border returns, report claims

A new report warns that a hard border could materialise after six weeks due to a no-deal Brexit.

https://www.thejournal.ie/you-people-northern-ireland-groomed-into-violence-hard-brexit-border-4499273-Feb2019/

An actor in military fatigues takes part in an anti-Brexit rally at the Irish border near Carrickcarnan, Co Louth.

An actor in military fatigues takes part in an anti-Brexit rally at the Irish border near Carrickcarnan, Co Louth.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

A NEW REPORT has warned that if a hard border emerges after Brexit young people in Northern Ireland could be “groomed into violent activity by dissident republicans”.

The report compiled by chairs of two UNESCO committees warns that young people who are marginalised are more susceptible to be recruited by groups like the New IRA.

“The deconstruction of a border swiftly after its creation could become the absolute raison d’etre for youth becoming engaged in violence,” the report states.

The report warns that in a little as six weeks it is possible that a hard border could materialise due to a no-deal Brexit and without direct efforts to engage youth and citizens of all backgrounds there will be a return to violence.

Authors of the report, Professor Pat Dolan and Professor Mark Brennan, also warn that if “a rushed and ill-timed” referendum for United Ireland – which Sinn Féin has repeatedly advocated for – is held after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, it too could result in conflict.

For youth from a loyalist background again who for whatever reason are marginalised (economically or socially) they may be recruited by dissident loyalist paramilitaries to engage in violent protest.

“The only question in both scenarios will be the scale of the violence,” the report said.

The Agreement Generation 

The report claims that the generation of people born after the Good Friday Agreement – the ‘Agreement Generation’ –  has no memory of the “horrors” of the Troubles, a key problem according to the report’s authors.

“It is not unusual that in post-conflict situations such as Northern Ireland, the immediate generation find it very difficult to discuss with the following generation (and in particular their offspring) the horrors of war and what happened to loved ones and, in this case, what is termed the ‘period of the troubles’,” the report said.

For some, it is still too fresh to discuss and many are probably still suffering with personal trauma from the many horrific acts of violence they witnessed that are still strong in their memory.

It added that while there may be a proportion of the population who are not sharing their experiences of the Troubles, there may also be those for whom what happened is unfinished and they in turn potentially could incite youth.

“This leads to an unforeseen risk in that youth falsely bias and romanticise past local history and minimise the human harm sorrow and grief that violence has caused to their fellow beings and neighbours.”

In an interview with TheJournal.ie, a former commander of the Real IRA said that life around the border would change “dramatically” in the short-term in the event of a hard Brexit.

He warned that resurgent armed republican groups would stage a massive recruitment drive if there was a hard border.

Security analyst and former Defence Forces officer Tom Clonan, who served at the border during The Troubles, argues that basic infrastructure like a camera on a mast would be attacked and removed.

“There are elements within the border area that do not want normal policing. So anything like that would be very, very provocative in the border areas – masts, aerials, sensors, or cameras would be seen as very provocative. I believe that type of infrastructure would be attacked and would be destroyed,” he previously told TheJournal.ie. 

Preventing violence 

The report carried out in conjunction with Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly, has warned that a return to violence would result in the increase in security costs and in prison numbers.

The report claims that a critical part of preventing violent extremism is to be found in community-level leadership, “which can counteract the emergence of extremism by providing a space for interaction between those of different traditions”.

However, in some areas in Northern Ireland, those community leaders are the ones who are involved in the radicalisation of the youth, an issue that has to be tackled as a matter of urgency.

Another recommendation is the development of youth-driven anti-extremism and anti-violence media campaigns, “to proactively prevent the emergence of violence both in a Brexit and possible referendum environment”.

“Acting together to facilitate peace and stability does not take away or diminish any tradition, culture, belief or background. This only helps to create something new that is more dynamic, adaptive, inclusive and far removed from politics, ideology, and the baggage of history,” the study concluded.

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UNESCO poll warns of violence in Northern Ireland due to no deal Brexit

https://www.irishcentral.com/news/politics/unesco-poll-warns-of-violence-in-northern-ireland-due-to-no-deal-brexity

Northern Ireland will return to violence as a result of a hard border due to no deal Brexit, the only question is scale say UNESCO chairs.

Research carried out by Irish Senator Mark Daly in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) shows there will be a return to violence in Northern Ireland as a result of a hard border, in the event of a no-deal Brexit and/or a rushed border poll.

The report firmly concludes that in as little as six weeks it is possible that a hard border could materialize due to a no deal Brexit, triggering a return to violence in Northern Ireland.

All indications are that without direct efforts to engage youth and citizens of all backgrounds, there will also be a return to violence in the event of rushed border poll on the island of Ireland. The only question in both scenarios will be the scale of the violence.

The aftermath of a bomb attack in Derry in January 2019, claimed by the Irish Republican Army.

The aftermath of a bomb attack in Derry in January 2019, claimed by the Irish Republican Army.

The report’s full title is “Northern Ireland Returning to Violence as a Result of a Hard Border due to Brexit or a Rushed Border Poll: Risks for Youth”. The research, published on Feb 18, 2019, is the result of the collaborative work of UNESCO Chairs Professor Pat Dolan and Professor Mark Brennan, with input from Michael Ortiz, who served as the first United States diplomat on the issue of Countering Violent Extremism in the US State Department during the Obama administration.

Senator Mark Daly said “This research and report, we have just published, identifies and highlights the responsibility of the United Kingdom government to stand by the backstop that they agreed to. This will ensure that the peace process on this island is not jeopardized by a no deal Brexit related hard border. The European Union need to ensure there is no return to a hard border in light of the facts outline in the UNESCO chairs report”.

Loss of memory of harm

The research highlights the issue of “Loss of memory of harm”, among the “Agreement Generation” a term which applies to the generation born just before or since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. This generation has no first-hand knowledge of the horrors of conflict and some will have been given a romanticized account of the ‘Troubles’.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Senator George Mitchell, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at Castle Buildings after they signed the Good Friday Agreement, in 1998.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Senator George Mitchell, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at Castle Buildings after they signed the Good Friday Agreement, in 1998.

The research also emphasizes the serious problems facing the present generation, especially those who live in the most disadvantaged loyalist and republican areas.

Professor Dolan points out “Firstly, at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland most young people were not involved and were peaceful by nature. Secondly, the human harm and damage that can be done by a small population of dissident youth from either or both communities can lead massive harm to people up to and including tragic death. So, this is not a simple matter of scale.”

Professor Brennan commented “We argue that where children (and youth) are being supported by adults to willingly or unwillingly become involved in acts of violence in the North, that this is a violation of their human rights under the United Nations. Such instances could and should be referred to the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on child and Armed Conflict.”

Preventing violent extremism

The report highlights the fact that a key element in preventing violent extremism is the role of community-level leadership, which can counteract the emergence of violence by providing a space for interaction between different traditions. However, it stresses that in some areas of Northern Ireland some of those vital community leaders are the ones involved in the radicalization of the youth – and that this critical issue must be tackled as a matter of urgency.  It must also be noted that Professors Dolan and Brennan acknowledge the positive work done in Northern Ireland by many individuals, groups, schools and civil society organizations.

A wall of the faces of the victims of the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

A wall of the faces of the victims of the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland.

 

The professors state in the report “In anticipation of a future referendum on unification and a new Ireland, regardless of when this emerges, program and policymakers need to establish a basis for cross-society interaction, integrated schooling, and integrated existences (housing, work, and other settings). It is only through this sort of interaction, communication, and experience sharing that all sides realize common, general needs as well as the fact that they have nothing to fear from the ‘other’ side.”

In the report, Michael Ortiz states, “Ireland and Northern Ireland have long struggled with terrorism but have made tremendous progress in recent years. As leaders across the island grapple with the concept of a United Ireland, it is important to consider the ways, in which future violence could be prevented, including the strengthening of counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts, supporting civil society organizations, and religious and educational institutions, and providing citizens with the tools they need to intervene during the radicalization process”

Michael Ortiz outlines how a return to violence can be prevented in advance of a border poll.

This research is based on one of the recommendations in the report adopted by the Parliamentary Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, “Brexit and the Future of Ireland, Uniting Ireland and Its People in Peace and Prosperity”  compiled in 2017 by Senator Mark Daly.

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