McDaid, Shaun, Mycock, Andrew, McGlynn, Catherine, McAuley, James W. and Gormley-Heenan, Cathy (2014) The Northern Ireland ‘Culture Wars’ Symposium Report: November 2013. Research Report. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield.

On 22nd November 2013, the Political Studies Association Britishness Specialist Group organised a symposium on the theme of Northern Ireland’s ‘culture wars’ at the University of Ulster campus in Belfast. The symposium highlighted multiple dimensions of a Northern Irish ‘culture war’, from debates based concerning expressions of communal identity (such as flags, parades, and dealing with the past) to those centred on social issues and the pace of societal change, such as abortion, marriage equality and multiculturalism.

Based on the day’s events, the report provides an overview of the proceedings and also makes a number of policy recommendations for politicians and others involved in the progressive development of civil society in Northern Ireland. Chief among these are the need to provide better opportunities for Northern Ireland’s most disadvantaged communities to engage and deliberate their shared future. Contributors to the symposium were unified in their recognition of the urgent need for policy-makers to ensure the provision of safe spaces for young people in particular to express their opinions, aspirations and grievances.

To ensure equality of citizenship, the report also urges the Northern Ireland Attorney General to consider the potential legal implications of the disparity in access to services and legal protections for citizens of Northern Ireland against those available in the rest of the United Kingdom. Moreover there is a need for politicians and policy-makers to address the pressing question of a racial equality strategy in Northern Ireland.

The symposium was kindly funded by the Political Studies Association together with the University of Huddersfield and the University of Ulster. The project team are happy to discuss the development of this research project and policy recommendations. Please contact Dr Shaun McDaid at

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