Political, religious and economic friction has existed in Northern Ireland since the 17th century. In 1921 the overwhelmingly Catholic Republic of Ireland was formed as an independent nation, while the province of Ulster in the northeast, with its Protestant majority, opted to remain with Britain.
In the 1960s, a civil rights movement to end economic and political discrimination against Catholics began, peacefully at first, but subsequently evolving into violent confrontations between extremist groups. Since 1969 nearly 3,500 police, soldiers and civilians have died as a result of what the Northern Irish call “the troubles.” Hope for peace in the region has been strengthened with the paramilitary cease-fires of 1994.
Religious and social segregation in Northern Ireland impacts the lives of Northern Irish teens by discouraging friendships between members of different faiths. Ulster Project Delaware seeks to promote reconciliation between opposing groups by fostering tolerance, understanding and friendship.
“Over 3,000 young people have participated in the Ulster Project, and not one of them has ever become involved in a paramilitary terrorist organization in Northern Ireland.” – Canon Kerry Waterstone