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Survey reveals resilient community relations in Castlederg

Published on:  08 Dec 2014

Despite high profile setbacks in recent years, community relations in Castlederg remain largely positive according to new survey results revealed by Border Arts 2000 today (8th December).

This survey, funded by the International Fund for Ireland and compiled byCastlederg Youth Forum, issued questionnaires designed to measure the attitudes and opinions of more than 200 households and assess how the area was bouncing back from a number of challenges that emerged over the last two years.

It focused on a number of concerns including attitudes to community relations, events, civil unrest, parades and commemorations, flags, shared spaces, new council structures, cultures and traditions, and integrated education.

Almost three-quarter of respondents (73.68%) said they felt community relations were good or very good and a significant majority (68%) said they had or would be willing to take part in cross-community activities.  More than 75% also said they would send their child to an integrated school if the option existed in the area.

However more than half (53.29%) felt that incidents relating to parades and flags have increased unrest in the community.

Gordon Speer, Project Coordinator for Border Arts 2000 said:
“The survey findings show that both sides of the community want to move forward and, despite recent knocks, there is still more that unites the people of Castlederg than divides them.  Respondents have acknowledged that the issues associated with parades and flags have had an impact, but there is still strong momentum to repair and enhance community relations in this region.

 “The report serves as a reminder that although peace is fragile, it can be resilient. For the most part, community confidence and trust remains strong in Castlederg and there is a lot of good work underway to help transform the town for the better. The survey sends out a positive message and shows that this is a forward-looking area that is overcoming adversity. That’s good news for all of us who want a better future.”

This questionnaire, in the form of a household survey, was conducted across Castlederg and designed to be inclusive of all views and beliefs. On a religious background, of those who responded 51% identified themselves as Protestant; 46.7% identified themselves as Catholic and 2.18% identified themselves as ‘other’.

The effort is supported by the International Fund for Ireland through its Peace Impact Project and Board Member, Dorothy Clarke. said:

“Castlederg is making great progress in such sensitive areas and it is particularly pleasing to see such positive views being expressed about the potential of shared activities and spaces. We know a lot of effort has invested quietly and effectively to reduce tensions and unrest. The report shows the value of that work and the significant impact it is making, but we cannot afford to be complacent.

 “The focus must now be on meeting the growing appetite for positive and sustainable change that is acceptable to all. For too long people in Castlederg have paid the high price for community division and it is important that we all do everything we can to keep the town moving forward.”

Founded in 2000, Border Arts has earned a strong reputation for peace and reconciliation work and has previously mediated successfully between bands and residents groups in Castlederg over the issues of parades and flags. However, like many areas, recent difficulties around parades and protests have stoked tensions and community relations has suffered a setback in this area.

To receive a copy of the report, contact Border Arts 2000 on 028 9167 0636

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