“The recent spate of arranged sectarian fights in north Belfast highlights the breadth and depth of the problems this community faces”, the Workers Party’s Chris Bailie has said.
“Over 60% of the electorate in north Belfast – the mothers, fathers and family members of those who shape up to each other on local waste ground and vacant sites- vote for parties which make no pretence of their tribal intentions”, he said
“The very structure of government in Northern Ireland is based on community difference. The Good Friday Agreement institutionalises the sectarianism that Sinn Fein and the DUP feed and fete on. Why should we be evenly remotely surprised, never mind outraged, when that sectarian mindset passes down yet another generation and ends up in confrontation on the streets”? asked Chris.
“North Belfast has the lowest proportion of school leavers achieving at least five high grade GCSEs. Sinn Fein and the DUP have provided another generation of young people with no hope and no future. They have given them no prospects, no options and very little in the way of a secure and productive future,” he added
“Are sectarian gang fights a good thing? Of course not. They terrorise local communities, they end in injury and hurt at best and they leave young people with criminal records. A number of young people have been referred to the juvenile justice system as a result of these sectarian confrontations”.
“This problem and its consequences are likely to be with us for some time to come. A start can be made by changing the culture and the mindset that feeds and benefits from it”, Chris said.
If we educate children separately, make them live apart and divide them with imagined cultural differences, then what do we expect will happen”. asked Chris
“If people vote for sectarian parties, if they turn a blind eye or if they just pretend it’s not happening then the outcomes will remain exactly the same. But start challenging the sectarian basis of our society, start questioning the real purpose of ’peace walls’ and ’interfaces’ and start realising the short, and long, term benefits of integrated education and then we can start looking forward to a different type of society: one where young people aren’t manipulated to beat each other up on waste ground”, concluded Chris