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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 17:02 GMT
Mixed marriages 'more acceptable'
The findings were presented at Queen's University in Belfast
The findings were presented at Queen's University in Belfast
Mixed marriages between Catholics and Protestants are becoming more tolerated in Northern Ireland, according to new research.

A university study also found the number of weddings bridging the religious divide had risen slowly over the last decade.

The survey results were presented at an international workshop organised by the Institute for conflict resolution in Belfast on Monday.

Report author and workshop co-organiser Gillian Robinson, from the School of Policy Studies at the University of Ulster, said the results marked a "significant decline in negative attitudes" to mixed marriages.

"Another interesting change is that since 1989 the number of mixed marriages in Northern Ireland, has very slowly inched upwards," she said.

Key findings:

  • Only 16% of those interviewed in 1998 believe people in Northern Ireland would "mind a lot" if a relative married someone from a different religion, compared with 33% of those questioned in 1989

  • Since 1989, mixed marriage numbers in the province has inched up

  • Catholic respondents are still more optimistic than Protestants about how marriages between religions are accepted in society

  • Catholics remain more tolerant to mixed marriages within their families than Protestants - but the gap has narrowed

  • Numbers of Protestants opposed to close relatives marrying someone of a different religion has fallen from 25% of those questioned in 1989 to 16% in 1998

  • The new spirit of tolerance towards mixed marriages has not been matched by a growing desire to live in areas populated by both religions or to work side by side

    Support for single religion schooling has also dropped, the survey found.

    Dr Marie Smyth, co-organiser of the workshop, said the shift in attitudes had been modest.

    She said: "It is still the case that Catholics are more likely than Protestants to say that they would not mind a mixed marriage in their family.

    "But the gap in attitudes between Catholics and Protestants has narrowed over the decade."

    The findings are taken from the Northern Ireland Life and Times survey, a joint venture between the University of Ulster and Queens' University in Belfast.

  • See also:

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