Study Program in Northern Ireland
May 31 - June 12, 2009
Belfast, Ballycastle, & Corrymeela Centre for Peace & Reconciliation
--10 Years After the 1998 Peace Accord--
An Academic Program sponsored by:Community Learning & Public Service (CLPS), Office of International Programs & Studies (OIPS), University of Ulster, UNESCO Centre for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy
For nearly 400 years, there has been almost constant, ongoing conflict among the Irish Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland. Civil conflict in this area is described as an ethnic frontier society (Wright, F; NI A Comparative Analysis, 1987).
For years, across the globe, nightly news broadcasts displayed images of barricades, blown up buildings, confrontations between citizens and neighbors, and the destruction brought on by prolonged and severe conflict. Negotiations for peace were very much an on and off again process. Then, in 1998, a peace accord was reached that produced a real truce and an opening up to a ‘new’ Northern Ireland.
Nowhere has the struggle been more compelling than amongst those who work with the youngsters – the young Irish Catholics and young Irish Protestants. Generations of young people grew up hating one another and seeking violent retribution for one another’s political, social and religious views. Those who are called “youth workers” in Northern Ireland have a special position in both the historical “Troubles” and the process leading to peace and reconciliation. These youth will be our local hosts and teachers as we seek to both understand the process of peace but also compare “youth violence” in Northern Ireland to the youth violence we are familiar with in the United States, New Mexico, and Albuquerque. The assumption is: we have much to learn from each other.
The purpose of this study trip is to examine some ways in which youth programs within and between the different communities in Northern Ireland have sought to promote work that addresses inequality and community understanding.