Ireland has been suffering from Anglo-Irish conflict for many centuries. In the 1920’s, Ireland underwent segregation, and Northern Ireland evolved (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). Additionally, the rise of the Catholic Middle class led to the development of new education and industry for the country (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). Marches to back up the Catholic movement brought out riots in the streets making it necessary for Northern Ireland to call out British troops in the 1960’s (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). The conflict led to thousands of deaths and injuries. Developing the current peace agreements has helped, but the conflict is not over as Northern Ireland is still divided constricting intergroup contact (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). When societies experience conflict, it is vital that the communities reach out to the youth as the youth is the future of society. Reaching out to the youth is an attempt to reduce the potentially harmful consequences of being raised among a conflicted and violent society (MvKeown, & Cairns, 2012). The youth have become the focus of preventing the continuance or re-emergence of the conflict in the future (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). Ireland has implemented several interventions to deflect the consistency of conflict in children in Northern Ireland.
Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking Tactics
In an effort to improve intergroup relationships for the youth, the young people of Ireland are removed from the area and relocated to temporary homes in Ireland, Britain, Holland, and America for the duration of the conflict marches (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). The relocation is known as a holiday scheme and intends to promote intergroup interaction and decrease the separation of the groups (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). Removing the children from the point of conflict reduces the group being affected and combines the group others of similar indifferences (Myers, 2010). Additionally, working through conflict in smaller groups allows individuals to feel a sense of belonging and an important part of the process of conflict resolution (Myers, 2010). The smaller group promotes communication among the conflicting societies as well. Communication leads to cooperation that enacts a group identity in turn causing individuals to think of the welfare of the group communicating as a whole rather than segregated welfare of the individuals (Myers, 2010).
Northern Ireland introduced integrated schools into the education system in an effort to promote intergroup relationships between Catholic and Protestant faiths (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). The integrated education is an effort to have children from both sides of the divide to communicate (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). It is a means to reduce the levels of segregation among the two groups, hoping to bring awareness of the differing beliefs, ethnicities, and abilities of all individuals (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). Integrating schools teaches the youth about the societal norms of the two groups. Societal norms include reciprocity, equality, and responsibility (Myers, 2010). Having knowledge of the norms in a society promotes acceptance among all groups involved and gives a clear understanding of the similar, but differing expectations of being an accepted member of society (Myers, 2010).
The cross-community integration programs implemented in Northern Ireland resulted in the majority of the individuals involved claiming a positive outcome from the efforts (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). The efforts have allowed individuals to adopt favor toward the individuals of the opposite group (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012). The positive outcomes demonstrate that conflict among segregated groups can be resolved through communication and group reduction (Myers, 2010). Mirror imaging is a concept in which individuals see the good of the side he or she is part of but view the society in opposition as negative (Myers, 2010). Negative mirror imaging hinders individuals and group to make accurate perceptions of the opposing group making it difficult for the two groups to come together in peace (Myers, 2010).
Cross-community integration programs invoke friendships between members of opposing groups. Invoking friendships opens lines of communication and desegregates those in opposition (Myers, 2010). Integration programs have proven beneficial when the contacts are between individuals with equal statuses (Myers, 2010) such as the youth integration programs in Northern Ireland. When the youth is partaking in the integration programs, the individuals interact with others who are facing similar conflict and dilemma. The similarities between the different circumstances forces the two groups to share a mutual unity as both are empathetic to the others circumstances (Myers, 2010). As the unity strengthens, cooperation between the two ignites and integration increases (Myers, 2010). As integration increases, communication increases and peacemaking begins as the groups land on a mutual decision of making peace. Additionally, the integration causes changes in individual attitudes leading to a change in behavior (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).
Conflict resolution and peacemaking are vital to the success of any group that is post-conflict. Developing plans of action to decrease the conflict and bring a unity among those involved in the conflict is vital to achieving a successful outcome. Northern Ireland developed a plan that has the potential of completely deteriorating the conflict and bringing peace to the societies involved. The youth is the future. Taking the youth into programs that support cross-community integration causes a chain reaction of events that aid in obtaining peace. Friendships are built, and communication and unity heighten. As the youth age and become prominent in societies, the values and attitudes learned from the program are put into effect potentially ending the conflict between Protestants and Catholics causing a harmful segregation among the two groups.
McKeown, S., & Cairns, E. (2012). Peacemaking youth programmes in northern ireland. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 4(2), 69-75. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17596591211208274
Myers, D. G. (2010). Social psychology (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.