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different voices Facing up to prejudice A newsletter by

Issue 3


By Aine Cronin-McCartney and Amy Coyle realised just how important young people are in shaping a peaceful future for all. After all, we are the present and the future generation. Possibly the politicians, decision makers and leaders of the future. “Sectarianism hasn’t gone away, young people are still affected by current and generational conflict. Although we are growing up in a much more peaceful environment than our parents and grandparents there is a lot more work to be done to keep progressing towards achieving real peace and reconciliation. Headliners reporter Saorla Boyle talks to pupils in the Northwest at Derry City Council’s Prejudice - Face-On conference.

YOUNG people from the Northwest tackled prejudice 'face on' at a recent conference organised by Derry City Council. While each of the schools in attendance had taken part in six-week projects examining different areas of prejudice, such as racism, homophobia and sectarianism, few felt that it impacted on their daily lives. Many of those interviewed by Headliners felt that they had not been subjected to prejudice, while others opened up about their own personal experiences. Fergus from Foyle and Londonderry College said: "Me and another boy from my school were walking

through the town and some people started shouting sectarian things at us," leaving Fergus and his friend with a bad feeling. Alanna (13) from Park had been the victim of racist name-calling. She said: "Whenever I was in primary school, people would call me ‘blackie’ and all that there because I’m tanned." Others said they had experienced it in school, out on the street playing and on the buses, where people thought they were older than they are. Between presentations from the various schools, Headliners shared the results of our on-going exploration of the themes of homophobia, racism and sectarianism. In introducing the pieces, we said: "While researching for our stories we

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“Try to inspire people not to be prejudiced. If you see people doing it, try to stop them because it’s just stupidness.” Paul (14) “In Headliners we seek to challenge politicians, church leaders, community activists, the media, government departments and others to listen to and hear what we, the young people of the future, have to say on these issues." Many of the young people we spoke to at the conference believed that sectarianism was the most prevalent prejudice in the North


West today but all agreed that prejudice in all its forms should be stopped. Fifteen-year-old Ashley, who attends Oakgrove College, said: "Make everything integrated so Protestants and Catholics could live among each other and everyone could get used to it.” While 14-year-old Jan from Foyle and Londonderry College suggested: "Maybe organise some more things like this, get all the schools to try to come together." Amanda, a 14-year-old pupil at Lumen Christi College, thought young people should take a practical approach to tackling prejudice. "We can make up posters and stick them up on walls in the city and say we reject sectarianism and racism," she said. Andrew (14) added: "Don't let anybody be left out." Conor (14) from St Joseph's said: "We could all try to change and work with each other and by going to courses, it helps when we talk to each other about it." This probably sums it up for all of us. Even if we don't think we're prejudiced, we could probably make some changes to the way we think or act towards others and by getting to know one another better through meeting up and talking, we would be breaking down the barriers that prejudice builds up.

tell us - we’ll tell others!


Different Voices, Issue 3

Welcome to different Voices issue 3

Aoife O’Connell now volunteers with Headliners, having been a member herself for three years. Here she shares her experiences of the Foyle Bureau.

contentS PAGE 2 - Aoife gives the lowdown on Headliners - as a member and volunteer. PAGE 3 - Building Bridges; how the city’s new bridge will impact on the lives of local young people. PLUS - Speak Out: Isolated young people in Letterkenny tell their story. PAGES 4 / 5 - Out and About: A Photo Spread Special. PAGES 6 / 7 - In-depth look at racism in the North West and what young people think. PAGES 8 / 9 - Get the Picture? Young people explore sectarianism through photography in Strabane. PAGES 10 / 11 - ‘The Problem with ‘Peace’ - we look at life for teenagers growing up post-Troubles.

“Headliners has shown me how to prioritise what is important to me and it has given me the confidence in myself to know that I can do whatever I want.”

PAGE 12 - How to contact and volunteer at Headliners.

A friend who was already a member encouraged me to join. I was quietly confident, was able to speak my mind amongst close friends, but when it came to sharing ideas in a public setting like in school, I would have left it to others to answer questions. Headliners definitely improved my ability to speak in front of groups of people. I also became able to make friends with new people and I have met people from different backgrounds. This has given me the skills to accept people instead of judging them and in turn this has improved my own development as a person. Through being part of magazine production I learned the basics of QuarkXpress and was able to design the pages that my writing would be on. This gave me a sense of ownership of the piece more than anything I had written before. The skills I learned in order to contribute to the magazines included, interviewing the public, vox pops and also brainstorming with a group. This increased my confidence further as I could clearly see the input that I was giving was being acknowledged and valued by my peers. The recording equipment we used for interviewing was completely new to me, as was the software for the page layouts. Learning to use these practically showed me that learning kinetically - is actually how I learn best and this knowledge has helped me to succeed in the engineering course I am doing now. I took part in a residential which was based around personal conflict. What I learned about myself in those 48 hours will stay with me forever. All the residentials and trips we took for team building were serious fun. They cemented the friendships I had made. Seeing my work in print and having someone compliment me on a piece I had written was always nice. Headliners has shown me how to prioritise what is important to me and it has given me the confidence in myself to know that I can do whatever I want. It provides a non-judgemental platform for young people to talk about issues that affect them and communicate those views in an exciting way. I am now working on a documentary with another former member as we have both continued volunteering at the bureau. Headliners has been a major part of my development and the support that I was given proved more helpful than the pastoral care in my school as the bureau provided a more relaxed and welcoming environment. The only other thing I have to add is a big thank you!

Your views our news Welcome to Issue 3 of Different Voices which is bursting with ideas and articles on issues affecting young people in the North West today. In this issue, we bring you up-to-date with the latest events that Headliners’ Foyle Bureau members have been attending - such as our front page story on ‘Prejudice: Face On’ - as well as hearing what’s in the hearts and minds of young people across the area. We hear what young people in Derry think of the city’s Peace Bridge current-

ly under construction, while others in Letterkenny address the issue of isolation. Members get out on the streets to talk racism while ‘SEEDS’ director Eddie Kerr gives an indepth interview on the issue in the North West. The challenges facing teenagers growing up in this post-Troubles era also come under examination. Finally, you can enjoy the fruits of the fantastic photo project which young people in Strabane worked on as the final show-piece of their study into sec-

tarianism. The pictures recently formed an exhibition in the town’s library as the centre piece of Community Relations Week. And, of course, our photo spread special shines a light on the diversity that forms the backbone of life in Headliners!

We always want to hear your views on what we’re doing, find all our contact details on the back cover. We hope your enjoy catching up with all our news!

This newsletter was published by Headliners Foyle, Suite 2, 23 Bishop Street, Derry, BT48 6PR, Tel: 02871309397,

Different Voices, Issue 3

Derry’s Peace Bridge ... a waste of time or a great idea?

Building bridges... DERRY boasts the highest number of under 16s in the UK, according to the latest census. But having been brought up in a city sometimes separated along sectarian lines by the River Foyle, will the new Peace Bridge being built for pedestrians and cyclists bring the young people of the Cityside and Waterside together or be seen as another interface in a divided city? As the bridge increasingly takes shape - work is expected to be com-

pleted by the end of the year - the future generation of the city have their say on the £13 million piece of infrastructure from Ilex, Derry’s urban regeneration organisatio. We find out if they think it is wonderful, or a waste! Sarah (14) is hopeful for the benefits the bridge will bring. She said: “I thought it would be good because then you could walk to the town. Also, it will bring the two communities closer together because there is a connection between them.” The building of the bridge - between the former army base at Ebrington on the Waterside and the historic Guildhall at the heart of the cityside - has become an attraction in its own right, with spectators gathering day by day to witness each stage in the bridge’s construction. Seventeen-year-old Jennifer

Maguire believes the Peace Bridge will boost interest in the city.

city’s citizens, not all the young people we spoke to were convinced.

Jennifer said: “I think it is a really good idea and it will bring a lot of people from the Waterside to the cityside and from the Cityside to the Waterside. I think it will bring attraction to Derry and bring the community together and will make things more convenient.

Both Sharon Hemphill, aged 17, and Rachel Hurley, 16, branded the bridge as ‘pointless’.

“I think it’s a really, really good idea and whoever thought of it, is really creative. I don’t know if there’s a need for it but it will be a good feature for the town,” she added. Joshua Anderson echoed this view. “It will increase tourism in Derry. It is a good idea. It will bring people together,” said the 16-year-old. But while many hope that the Peace Bridge will be a way of uniting the

Rachel said: “There’s no need for one when there’s already two bridges with sidewalks. It won’t have any effect because the city’s too small.” Seventeen-year-old Ryan Doherty had mixed feelings. He said: “They could probably have used [the funding] for something else for children in the city, but it is handy.” The people behind the Peace Bridge see it as a symbol of the future - a shared future. Time will tell if it lives up to expectations.

a little bit distant with my friends at times but the most isolation I’ve caused myself is with my outer family, I never really communicated with them that much, mainly in fear of being judged or what their opinions of me would be. Recently it’s all come out but they’re all really good with it. Now I don’t feel as isolated as I used to but there was isolation when I was younger.”

Young people from Break Out open up to one another.

THE North West county of Donegal is one of the biggest but also one of the most rural in all of Ireland. Young people from across the region can often feel cut-off from friends because of distance. But for those who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, the feelings of isolation can seem even more heightened. ‘Break Out’, based in Letterkenny and funded by PEACE III, offers a drop-in

service to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) young people in the Donegal area, offering friendship and fun while reassuring them that they are not on their own. Headliners asked some of the young people involved how being part of a group like ‘Break Out’ helped them find their feet and their voice. Chris (19) said: “I have had some isolation, due to myself really, usually out of paranoia, when I was younger I would be

Eighteen-year-old Kevin agreed that he had dealt with feelings of isolation before coming to ‘Break Out’. He said: “It’s stopped a lot in the past year thanks to ‘Break Out’. Before that I felt very isolated among my friends because I was the only person who was gay and having to sit for three or four years and listen to them going on about their relationships, breaking up and going out and snogging, it’s like ‘OK, I can’t do that, I have to sit here and watch you do that’. He continued: “Recently thanks to ‘Break Out’ I’ve met other gay people and it’s nice to have gay friends and straight friends. I feel much more part of the wider gay community now, I think ‘Break

Out’ and going down to Dublin every so often have helped that. Before ‘Break Out’ there was nothing in Letterkenny.” A 17-year-old girl added: “I think it’s because they’re afraid of other people’s reactions that they isolate themselves almost, they might be afraid to come out because they’re afraid of other people and what they might think.” The overwhelming impression from all those we spoke to was that ‘Break Out’ plays an enormously important role in raising their self-esteem and helping them find like-minded friends to add to those they already have, rather than replacing them. Isolation is not necessarily about being stuck out in the middle of nowhere, it’s as much about being surrounded by people who are not on your wavelength. But thanks to ‘Break Out’, these gay young people from Donegal find that isolation of any kind is no longer an issue.

Read more about this Headliners project in the next issue of Different Voices.





Different Voices, Issue 3

Out and about

Headliner members join other young people from Donegal and Belfast for a tour of the Walls of Derry ahead of their visit to Belgium.

liatio reconcil d n a e c a e elfast. w s on p Intervie aughmonagh, B T ple from

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Headliner members get in on the organised by Derry City Council

adliner members Ready for action! He activities at take part in outdoor Gartan in Donegal.

Aine hears the views of one of the you Face On conference. ed up! ts gear e g e c a Gr

with Headliners

Different Voices, Issue 3

Fiona is thrilled to receive her Millennium Volunteer certificate from Project Manager, Malalachy Kyle and Geraldine (volunteer).

e act at the Prejudice: Face On conference l held in the City Hotel.

ung people attending the Prejudice:

nt t prese y d d o ear R ct. d Eim ners proje n a l l i a l d H a a He on rt, Fi n th e Stewa Donegal o a l o T st and Belfa

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The times they are a-changing By: Eimear Kerr, Rebecca, Fiona, Clodagh, Eimear Roddy and Fearghal “Derry is not a racist place but there are racists who live here.” These are the words of Eddie Kerr, Director of Seeds, an independent group working in mutual solidarity to promote and realise the human rights, equality and full integration in our society of asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers. Seeds is located in the One World Centre in Derry where people from multi-cultural backgrounds are encouraged to use the services offered by nine organisations housed there. Headliners reporters spoke to a few of the foreign students at the centre and were glad to hear that none of them had personally experienced racial abuse. Eddie tells a different story: “There are 59 nationalities living in the multi-cultural centre of the city. In the last three months there have been 17 or 18 physical attacks in the city and there are certain hotspots where racist incidents happen. I try to advise people to stay away from these hotspots – some of them are in the communities where they live so we have to work closely with the police. “We have what’s called a

‘hate crime protocol.’ People can come to us and we can report the crime on their behalf. If they don’t want to pursue the crime then we will pursue the crime. It’s almost like a conduit on their behalf. We challenge negatives in our society by being proactive not reactive. We go into schools and community groups and sometimes into places where we aren’t wanted.”

“I know members of the black community who just take verbal and racial abuse as something to be dealt with all their lives.” Eddie added: “Reporting a racist attack can be quite personal and difficult. No-one wants to put their hand up and say they were racially attacked. People look at statistics and may find that 10 or 15 per cent go through the courts and 80 or 85 per cent don’t get convicted. “There are a lot of people who just don’t want to lift their head above the parapet. They

SEEDS director Eddie Kerr.

don’t want to draw attention to themselves. I know members of the black community who just take verbal and racial abuse as something to be dealt with all their life. “Derry people are quite simple in the way that they analyse society. Anybody who is white and speaks funny is from Poland, anyone who has a slant in their eyes is from China and anyone who is black is from Africa. In a way I don’t know if that’s ignorance or convenience, pigeonholing or stereotyping, boxing off or putting people into categories. “We like to deal with categories because categories are easier to work with. Is that racist? I don’t know. It’s a bit of ignorance, a lack of understanding, a lack of awareness, a lack of comprehension of ethnicity and differences that exists in our society. “I think it’s about adapting to change – something different. None of us were born racist. We learn racist behaviour. None of us are born with racist tendencies –children don’t know the difference between black and white until they are told. Once you learn it you can unlearn it.” Eddie assured: “Overall one of the things people who move here will say is that Derry is a fairly warm and welcoming

city. But there are people in the city who hate everyone, it doesn’t matter what colour, creed or gender you are. You have that group that are just haters. People who hate anything different to themselves and who fear change.

“None of us were born racist. We learn racist behaviour.” “When you exploit those differences to be superior to someone else then racism is what happens. Some of them want to pass blame onto someone else because they can’t get a job or a house. “They prescribe blame and then mix it with hate. Some people in 2009 don’t even realise they have made a racist comment. I have been in the company of people who tell racist jokes. People still tolerate this. “As for people who don’t like their communities changing, are they racist? Not all of them. Some of them are ignorant.”

Contact: Seeds, One World Centre, 7 Foyle Street, Derry, BT48 6AL. Tel: 02871370989. Web:

Racism - young people have their say “A lot of people used to pick on my friend and say, ‘Why are you black?’ I mean I don’t understand it. It is really wrong. I mean I really don’t understand it. I am really angry about that. My good friend he was really affected by that. He’s over it now but it happens you know.” Male (15), Derry

“ I haven’ t really seen much racism in the time I have been here.” American female visitor to Derry (14)

“ I haven’ t heard of many racist stories although I had this black friend and he is constantly calling me names like white boy and cracker. I don’ t know what to do about that. Am I meant to say bad things back to him? I mean is that racism? I don’ t really know myself.” Male (17), Derry

“ I had a friend who got beat up recently because they are dark- skinned. It’ s hard to say what causes racism. I suppose a lack of understanding and general attitudes towards people’ s beliefs and cultures and I suppose the way people are brought up.” Aaron (17), Derry

some boy and her brother told her not to go with him cos he was a ‘paki’.” Female (16), Derry

“I think in the community there is a lack of projects that reconcile black and white people. I think at a younger age the children

“ I do know one person. He was Korean and he got stabbed and he died in a small town where I live.” Emma, American visitor to Derry (13)

should be brought together growing up knowing that there isn’t a great difference between people who have different skin colours. I have been called a few names like ‘monkey’ and stuff and it’s not fair at all.”

“I think what causes racism

Female (15), Derry

is people not knowing that people from different races are just the same as us and the recession. People come over here to get jobs.”

“This girl was going with

“ Ignorance and just lack of knowledge causes racism. The only reason that racism is around is because certain races think that their race is better than another race.” Male (14), Dungiven

Male (16), Derry

“ Ignorance and fear is what causes racism” Female (18), Derry

“ I know people in America that have experienced racial discrimination. I know a black man who was shot at just for being black. Throughout his life he has experienced so much racism that it has really weighed him down and changed him.” American Male Visitor to Derry (15)


Different Voices, Issue 3

Get the

Young people use photography to challenge o

“In 10 years time I want to be a boxer or go to the Irish army have two boys “In the future I’m going to live in a mansion in “I want to be a farmer an “In 10 years time I am going t “I want to be a nursery teacher, get mar

e picture?

Different Voices, Issue 3

others on the issue of sectarianism in Strabane

y. I want to be married, live in a big house Down South and s.” - Ciarnan n Florida with my wife and children.” - Darren nd a mechanic.” - Dennis to be at university.” - Kirsten rried and have four children.” - Louise



Different Voices, Issue 3

The problem By Paul Gillen (15)

THE NORTH West was often at the forefront of the Troubles in Northern Ireland but now that young people here are growing up in supposed ‘peace’, what is life like without the constant threat and fear of violence? Some might think that life is now full of possibilities in this land of new-found freedom but it seems that many teenagers today are still living with troubles of a different type, with segregation still prevalent and ever increasing outside pressures such as self-harm, suicide, body image and binge-drinking. Segregated communities and divided schools are still very much the norm in the North West. While many young people recognise the need to mix – joining cross-community organisations as well as attending integrated schools - they are fearful of the consequences. They are well aware that sectarianism will continue in their day-to-day lives

through part-time work and their social lives, but these young people remain determined to integrate and are hopeful that more and more young people will, in time, do the same. Ben (15) said: “I have mates who are Protestant and Catholic but some of them have other friends who wouldn’t want to hang around with people of a different religion. They’d get stick at home or school. I don’t understand it, if someone’s a good laugh, it doesn’t matter to me what religion they are.” Currently only around five per cent of the school population attend integrated schools, although statistics show that approximately three-quarters of parents support integrated education and would choose an integrated school for their children if one was available. Of the miniscule percentage of schoolchildren attending integrated schools, a study by McCully states: ‘93% felt that integrated education had had a significant positive impact on their lives, mainly in generating a respect for diver-

Headliners member Grace speaking at the Community Relations Week launch

sity and promoting a feeling of security in plural environments. By supporting this style of education we are by-passing the fear of the ‘other’ community, which for some reason still exists today.’ Public housing is another key area where segregation is still rife with less than ten per cent of public housing areas integrated. Jack (16) said: “Where I live, every-

one’s same religion so everyone Grace from Headliners joins the Mayor of Derry, Cllr. Paul Fleming, and other young people andthe community workers at Derry City Council’s Community Relations Week launch.

Different Voices, Issue 3

with ‘peace’


goes to the same school, the same church, the same shop. I only started meeting people of a different religion last year when I joined a cross-community project.” How are people supposed to be moving on from the past if they don’t do it together? We need to accept each other’s beliefs and move past what happened in the past. We still have a long way to go but at least there are young people out there in the North West quietly building bridges instead of walls.

I don’t understand it, if someone’s a good laugh, it doesn’t matter to me what religion they are.’ Ben (15)

The Walls of Derry are well known to many young people but for all the wrong reasons. They have become a magnet for underage drinkers, the numbers of whom have swelled incredibly since the start of the ceasefire. It seems that while the Troubles were terrorising Northern Ireland during the 1970s, it was much more common for young people to go to youth or sports clubs, often run by the church, suggesting that more young people took part in volunteer work and fundraising for their local communities. These days young people are more likely to be found at home, with mobile phones, X Boxes, internet, social net-

Grace from Headliners joins the Mayor of Derry, Cllr. Paul Fleming, and other young people and community workers at Derry City Council’s Community Relations Week launch.

working sites and everything else keeping them closer to technology rather than the community.

Molly (17) said: “I don’t go up the Walls every weekend getting in a state, but I would be a social drinker.”

This lack of involvement may explain why suicide levels have risen to a new level. A University of Ulster study into any correlation between suicides and the amount of deaths by murder or organised crime showed that the lowest year for suicides was 1972 when 47 people in Northern Ireland took their own life, yet this was also the height of the political conflict with 497 people murdered in that single year. To put this into perspective, in 2008, there were 282 suicides were provisionally recorded for Northern Ireland.

Joe (16) added: “There’s nothing else really to do so I started drinking a couple of years ago.”

Likewise, a recent Church of Ireland study carried showed a staggering 370% increase in underage drinking in public places in Ireland since 1996. Almost 80% of teenagers surveyed in Northern Ireland claimed to have been ‘really drunk’ before they were 16. Many of the young people I spoke to admitted they started drinking around the age of 14 or 15.

I only started meeting people of a different religion last year when I joined a cross-community project.’ Jack (16) Statistics show quite clearly that there is a huge need for more youth clubs, sports events and an altogether bigger sense of community in today’s youth. Ideally, these would all be integrated. After all, if it means that we’re off the streets, staying alive, isn’t it worth it?

Volunteer Today!

This proj-

DO YOU WANT TO BE A VOLUNTEER? Contact us in: Headliners Foyle, First Floor, Suite 2, 23 Bishop Street, Derry / Londonderry, BT48 6PR. Tel: 028 7130 9397. Mobile: (Audrey) 07759558807. Email: Mobile: (Malachy) 07809873761. Email: Web: This project has been funded by the Department of Education (Millennium Volunteers).

This newsletter was published by Headliners Foyle, Suite 2, 23 Bishop Street, Derry, BT48 6PR, Tel: 02871309397,

Different Voices Issue 3  

Headliners Foyle young people report on issues that effect them.

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