I don't intend to write too much about the research but one thing stands out clearly. According to the research the public in Northern Ireland have become more intolerant of minorities.
In 2005 when the research was first carried out 38% of people surveyed stated that they would mind if a friend or relative entered into a relationship with a traveller. In 2008 this has risen to 51%.
Similarly, in 2005 29% of people surveyed stated that they would mind if a relative or friend entered into a relationship with a lesbian, gay or bisexual person. In 2008 this has risen to 35%.
We can debate at length why Northern Ireland has become more intolerant but it's clear to me that a lot of blame can be apportioned to the two dominant parties within Northern Ireland's Executive, namely the DUP and Sinn Fein.
The DUP and Sinn Fein have failed to take any decisive pro-active action in government to promote diversity and tackle intolerance. We are still waiting for a new Shared Future strategy after previously being told it would be published by Halloween 2008. The Executive seems to be seriously riven with divisions. As a result no meaningful decisions are being made nor is any decisive leadership being shown that is required to create a new Northern Ireland which is more tolerant of all people, including travellers and gay people.
In this vacuum it is not surprising that public are becoming more intolerant of minorities with people such as the First Minister's Wife Iris Robinson MP MLA fanning the flames of hate after using the words "disgusting, loathed, physical disgust, nauseous, shamefully wicked, vile, an abomination" to refer to homosexuality in 2008.
24 June 2009