Sport and community integration in Northern Ireland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article addresses the role of sport in Northern Ireland, a country that, despiteexperiencing 20 years of relative peace, remains deeply divided along ethno-sectarianlines. It locates this analysis amid publication by the Office of the First and Deputy FirstMinister in Northern Ireland’s devolved Assembly of its draft proposals to tacklecommunity divisions in the country. The Programme for Cohesion, Sharing andIntegration consultation (2010) document was the local government’s attempt tocommence dialogue around how decades of division in Northern Ireland could be meaningfully addressed. However, one of its principle failings has been its reluctance to build upon well-established programmes, many of them using sport as a tool to promote social and community cohesion, which have existed in the country for some time. Moreover, these community-based initiatives are typically at their most potent within the so-called hard-to-reach communities where relationships between the minority Catholic and the majority Protestant populations present particularly challenging concerns. Of course, sport cannot offer all the answers and an oversellingof its potential in Northern Ireland, specifically when addressing deeply ingrained levels of mistrust in the country, is contained in a detailed critique in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-101
JournalSport in Society
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 10 Sept 2013

Bibliographical note

Reference text: 1. Arthur, P.1990. Government & Politics of Northern Ireland. London: Longman.
2. Coalter, F.2008. “Sport-in-Development: Development for and Through Sport?” In Sport and Social Capital, edited by R.Hoy, and M.Nicholson, 34–46. London: Elsevier.
3. Community Relations Council. 2010. Response to the Consultation on the Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Consultation. Belfast: CRC.
4. Hamber, B., and G.Kelly. 2004. A Working Definition of Reconciliation. Occasional paper published by Democratic DialogueBelfast: DD.
5. Hassan, D.2005, February. “The GAA, Rule 21 and Police Reform in Northern Ireland.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues29 (1): 60–78. [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]
6. Integrated Education Fund. 2010, September. Developing the Economic Case for Shared Education. Belfast: Oxford Economics.
7. Magill, C., A.Smith, and B.Hamber. 2010. The Role of Education in Reconciliation. Magee: University of Ulster.
8. McEvoy-Levy, S.2006. Troublemakers or Peacemakers? Youth and Post-Accord Peace Building. New York: University of Notre Dame Press.
9. NI Executive. 2008. Programme for Government 2008–2011. Belfast: OFMDFM,
NIMDM (Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure). 2010. Belfast: NISRA. 11. NIO. 1999. A New Beginning: Policing in Northern Ireland. The Report of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland. Belfast: NIO.
12. OFMDFM. 2010, July. Draft Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration. Belfast: OFMDFM.
13. Pawson, R.2004. “Evaluating Ill-Defined Interventions with Hard-to-Follow Outcomes.” A Paper presented to the ESRC seminar understanding and evaluating the impact of sport and culture on society, Leeds Met University, Jauary 17.
14. Shirlow, P., and B.Murtagh. 2006. Belfast – Segregation, Violence & the City. Dublin: Pluto.
15. Towards Sustainable Security: Interface Barriers & the Legacy of Segregation in Belfast. 2009. Belfast: Community Relations Council.
16. Weiss, M.1996. “Sporting Participation Amongst Children.” In Worldwide Trends in Youth Sport, edited by P.De Knop, L.-M.Engstrom, B.Skirstad, and M.Weiss, 25–39. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.


Dive into the research topics of 'Sport and community integration in Northern Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this