Dominic Murray, Worlds Apart: Segregated Schools in Northern Ireland (Appletree Press 1985), 164pp.

I have come to the conclusion over the years that treatments of the concept of “identity” in Ireland, which have usually either been quarried from the misty slopes of the Boyne or illuminated by some celtic twlight, have continually yielded little to aid comprehension of identity in the Northern Ireland context. More can be learned about cultural realities in the province through a consideration of contemporary influences on identity. I am using the term here in terms of identity with rather than identity of individuals, groups and structures. … Therefore, commetn is made on the extent to which individuals and groups within the schools relate to (or identitfy with) government and state departments in Northern Ireland. … / It would seem remiss, therefore that so litle research has been carried out in Northern Ireland into how the two major cultural and religious groups perceive their identity. … [77]

Since the concept of identity dealt with here is of a political character, it should be seen in the context of the prevailing political structures of Northern Ireland. In fact, the implementation of the state was carried out almost exclusively by Protestants. The Catholic population, being convinced that the system would never last, took little part in proceedings. They were content to await its imminent and inevitable demise. The fact that the state proved more durable than Catholics had anticipated had two main implications. In the first place, Catholics were badly represented at polcy-making levels and secondly, and perhaps consequently, more concern was afforded to Protestant aspirations and values in the formation of legislation and administration. This situation obtained as much in education as in other institutions. (pp.77-78.)

An Analysis of Segregation incl. comment of Catholic teacher about the flying of the flag in Protestant schools: ‘They fly the flag ther to show that they are more british than the British themselves. it is also to let us know that they are the lords and mastetrs and we (Catholics) should be continually aware of it. (p.113).

‘A consideration of stereotypes expressed by teachers and pupils in Rathlin and St Judes provided some reinforcement for the view that segregated schools do, in fact, contribute to community divisions. The whole point about stereotypes is that they are spawned and expressed in ignorance of the subject about which they are addressed. Indeed it would seem that, almost by definition, ignorance is an essential ingredient in their construction. Separate schooling ensures not only that the children of each major cultural group spend the bulk of their formative years in splendid isolation but also, as a consequence, that they know little about the values, attitudes and aspirations of the other group. What knowledge they do pick up is second-hand in the sense that it is only someone else’s account of it. The source is generally as misinforme as the recipient. The result is a little like learning about sex in the school-yard. The statistical likely of having a baby as a result of kissing is about the same as being injured by your Catholic or Protestant neighbour! None the less, this latter perception may well be promoted by the fact that many adult Protestants in Northern Ireland have never spoken to a Catholic (and vice versa). Arising from this mutual lack of knowledge comes suspicion and, since most second-hand knowledge is founded on unfavourable stereotypes, fear and reaction lie not too far below the surface.’ (p.122.) [NOTE that the analogy of pregnancy is clearly inaccurate in respect of the Troubles in N. Ireland.]

‘Increased knowledge, of course, will not in itself solve the problem. One must take into acount the political aspirations which are allied to cultural heritage in Northern Ireland.In fact, especially on the Protestant side, cultural identification may well be seen in terms of the very basic desire for self-preservation. Nonetheless, no progress can be made unless there is a mutual awareness of these aspirations, whether they be cultural or political. At present schools in the province do little to foster such an awareness.’ (p.125.)

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