Global Journal of Peace Research and Praxis

Tapestry of Hopes and Despair for Northern Ireland’s Youth: NGO Leaders Perceptions on Youth Development

Kawser Ahmed, Julie Hyde, Sean Byrne, Olga Skarlato, Peter Karari


After the signing of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement violence receded to a considerable extent in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties. However, dissident paramilitary organizations continue to commit violent acts. Young people are one of the main cadres in creating these acts and are also involved in anti-social and criminal activities. While the majority of these young people were not exposed to the violence of the Troubles some have chosen violence as a means to solve problems that are in effect destabilizing the formal peace process. Consequently, this article explores the perceptions of 120 civil society NGO leaders and funding agency development officers who are involved in youth development as a part of their local informal peacebuilding projects. The field research was conducted during the summer of 2010. External economic aid from the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) and the European Union (EU) Peace III Fund has played an important role in the peacebuilding process in Northern Ireland in terms of funding community based grassroots intervention projects. The findings from the study reveal some important reasons behind youth violence in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties and also illustrate how the peacebuilding projects undertaken by NGOs are striving to improve their condition.


Youth violence; dissident paramilitary activities; sectarianism; Northern Ireland; IFI and EU Peace III funding; peacebuilding

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