Thursday 20 June 2019

One Young World: Teen tells of frustration with Northern Ireland sectarianism

Anita McSorley

A Co Down teenager has opened up about his frustration that Northern Ireland is still rife with sectarianism.

Alex Polkey is one of 1,400 young people attending the One Young World Summit in the Convention Centre in Dublin.

The 19-year-old student addressed his fellow delegates this morning about the ongoing conflict in Northern Ireland.

“2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the first IRA ceasefire which triggered the Northern Irish peace process. This, as you know, signalled the end of the 30-year conflict known as ‘the troubles’,” he said.

“I am of the first generation to grow up free from the immediate fear of bombs and bullets and this achievement cannot be understated, however I am frustrated.

“I am frustrated that many inside and outside our society seem to think that Northern Ireland is no longer relevant in the conflict discourse,” he added.

Speaking as part of a panel discussing peace and conflict around the world, he revealed that there is not “true peace”.

“Many seem to think that because we have a peace settlement its almost like we should have peace but we do not have true peace. The troubles rage on in the hearts and minds of our communities,” he said.

The University of Bath student is concerned with the lack of inter-faith dialogue in the province.

“Our schooling system is still divided along religious lines and each summer we still bite our lips praying that the yearly marching season does not erupt into violence,” he said.

“Northern Ireland is still mired in sectarianism and by sectarianism I mean the reciprocal bigotry and mistrust felt towards each other.

“A great deal more is to be done if Northern Ireland is to become a truly stable society,” he added.

More than 1,400 delegates from all over the world are in the capital for the three day event, which aims to highlight the pressing issues the world faces.

Poverty campaigner Bob Geldof, activist Ali Hewson, United Nation secretary general Kofi Annan and Mark Pollock, a blind South Pole adventurer who is now exploring a cure for paralysis, are among the key speakers.

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