Legacy of the conflict

Scroll down to find out more about this issue - including a summary for children and young people, background information including the relevant Children's Rights, how we are monitoring Government and our work in addressing the issue.

NICCY Dudes Legacy of the Conflict Peace Wall

Summary for children and young people

The impact of the ‘Troubles’ and the divisions underlying it, continue to significantly impact on the lives of our children and young people, all of whom were born after the Good Friday Agreement. 

Separation and segregation continues to be a part of daily life for children and young people in Northern Ireland in accessing services, with segregated living significantly affecting how they live their lives. In Belfast, the vast majority of public housing is segregated into Protestant or Catholic areas. Children are largely educated in separate schools, with only 7% of children attending integrated schools.

More information for children and young people on the legacy of the troubles

Review of the law on Child Sexual Exploitation - Cover Distressed Child

Information on the legacy of the Troubles

The legacy of the conflict adversely affects children and young people in Northern Ireland through social division, segregated housing and education, sectarianism, and ongoing paramilitary violence.  In communities disproportionately impacted by the conflict and its legacy, high rates of child poverty, socio-economic deprivation, low investment and educational under-attainment create particular conditions of vulnerability and detrimentally affect children’s life chances.

More recently, there has been increasing recognition of the consequences of transgenerational trauma for children and young people in Northern Ireland, whereby children’s poor psychological health may result, in part, from the consequences of the trauma experienced by their parents.

The presence of paramilitary-style groups in certain communities is an ongoing legacy of the Troubles.  NICCY is deeply concerned about the harm these organised groups inflict on children and young people, through intimidation, abuse, exploitation and coercive control.  Unfortunately, due to gaps in data, the specific nature, scale and impact of paramilitary activity on children and young people in certain communities is in not fully clear.

Relevant Children's Rights

Views from young people

Teenager Looking Distressed Monotone

“I don’t understand also because … the paramilitaries make the young people sell the drugs, and then the young people maybe get into debt, and what happens if young people don’t pay them the money they are owed, and then the paramilitaries would beat them up … the boy who they gave the drugs to sell in the first place.” Young person, NI

Child Boy Leaning Against a Bush

“We all have the right to feel safe all of the time.” Young person,

Monitoring Government – what is government doing to address Legacy issues?

In 2015, ‘A Fresh Start’, The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan (the ‘Fresh Start Agreement’) set out the government’s goal to end paramilitarism and associated criminality, and its commitment to develop a strategy to disband paramilitary groups. It also set up the Fresh Start Agreement panel, an independent three-person panel, to make recommendations on the disbandment of paramilitary groups.

The NI Executive Plan on Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime (‘the Plan’) was published in June 2016 and contained 43 commitments in response to the Panel’s recommendations.

Monitoring progress of the Plan’s implementation is undertaken by The Independent Reporting Commission (IRC).  The IRC have recommended a standalone outcome to tackle Paramilitarism in the Assembly Mandate 2022-2027.

Our work on legacy of the Conflict

NICCY has repeatedly called for a unified strategic response to protect children from harm, including abuse, violence, coercion and exploitation by organised gangs and groups. In our advice to government we have raised a range of concerns about young people’s safety related to the exploitation of young people, threats of and actual assault, threats to life; the exploitation of young people into criminal activities, the recruitment of young people into paramilitary or criminal gangs and various other  concerns.

NICCY provided oral evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on ‘The effect of paramilitaries on society in Northern Ireland’ on Wednesday 9 November 2022 – you can view the evidence here

More info

For further information on our work on Legacy of the Conflict, contact arlene@niccy.org

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