Ulster tries to bridge divide

May 24, 1996

The article on sectarianism in Ulster colleges (THES, May 3) painted a very negative picture of student attitudes in Northern Ireland. It failed to focus on the community relations work being carried out by students.

The student movement played an integral part in creating a community relations officer at the National Union of Students/Union of Students in Ireland regional office in Belfast. The officer has been employed for the past two years and has undertaken a vast community relations programme in third-level institutions throughout Northern Ireland. This, I believe, is proof that students are being proactive in combating sectarianism. As part of the programme Queen's Students' Union has sent its student representative council on training events, not only to encourage contact but to raise awareness of the anti-sectarianism policies that exist in our union.

The article did not focus on this positive aspect of student attitudes in Northern Ireland. Nor did it mention the wide condemnation the end of the ceasefires received at a peace vigil at Queen's on February 11, a vigil that attracted over 1,500 students from both communities.

As young people in Northern Ireland we have a vested interest in promoting contact and anti-sectarianism policies and we will continue to do so.

Michelle McCauley President Queen's University of Belfast Students' Union.

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