Something to Say! TRIPROJECT Survey Report on the Views of Young School Leavers in the Derry City Council District Areas

Author(s): Rosellen Roche
Document Type: Report and Summary Report (click on links to access the reports)
Year: 2005
Publisher: Blackstaff Press
Place of Publication: Belfast
ISBN: 0-85640-785-2
Subject Area(s): Poverty and Welfare, Low Income Families, Material Deprivation, Children and Conflict, Impact of Conflict, Good Relations and Equality, Sectarianism, Justice and Policing, Policing, Experience of Policing, Education, Health and Well-Being, Substance Abuse

Abbreviations: NI - Northern Ireland, DCCD - Derry City Council District, PSNI - Police Service of Northern Ireland

Background to the Research

  • The Toward Reconciliation and Inclusion Project was a youth initiative, designed by young people and hosted by Derry Youth and Community Workshop between April 2003 and December 2005, which sought to quantitatively and qualitatively uncover some of the most common contemporary concerns facing young people in these areas. The city of Derry, split by the River Foyle and very much separated into Protestant and Catholic areas, is characterised by economic decline, deprivation, poverty, and sectarian violence.

Research Approach

  • Approximately 900 self-report questionnaires were circulated under supervision around DCCD areas. The participants were all aged between 16 and 25 years. A total of 486 usable questionnaires were returned. All DCCD areas were included, with a representative sample from each district compared to population in each age category.

Main Findings

  • Fifty-one percent of respondents were male and 49% were female. The majority affiliated themselves with either the Catholic (65%) or Protestant (27%) communities. The split of the sexes within the Catholic and Protestant community categories was relatively even.
  • Young people had varied feelings about their experiences whether they had left school early or not. While some did have positive feelings, many suffered from feelings of regret and inadequacy at school. Parents had encouraged many to leave school to pursue a trade, with the majority of these coming from backgrounds where their families had not pursued further education. Some candidates felt they had been academically 'left behind' at school.
  • Seventy-nine percent of the sample reported having left school; 32% of these early. Only 21% of the young people considered themselves still in school. The most popular reasons for leaving school early were 'just wanting to leave'; 'being bored; and 'being expelled'. 79% of those that left school reported attending a governmental training scheme or noted that they remained unemployed.
  • 63% of young people were satisfied with living in the DCCD areas. However, only 35% stated that they would like to live there all their lives; 64% stated 'maybe' or 'no'. The most common reason for dissatisfaction was that 'it's boring here' (31%). 27% listed foreign destinations that they would prefer to visit for a year or so or to which to emigrate. 22% felt that NI was simply not a nice place to live, while 21% would 'like to move anywhere other than here'. Only 50% of Protestants compared to 71% of Catholics 'liked living in the city'.
  • 56% of young people found the city and its surroundings 'just alright', while 20% found it 'fun and exciting'. Young people became less content as they grew older. The three most popular recreational activities in the city were going to dance clubs, going to pubs, and hanging out on the street with friends.
  • Young people in general felt dissatisfied with the amount of organised sporting activities available to them. Only 28% participated in sport on a regular basis. 39% of males stated that they regularly participated in organised sport compared to 17% of females.
  • Only 14% of the sample reported having a driving licence, although 36% reported driving without a licence at some point. 23% reported that they had taken an automobile or been in a car as a joyrider. More males (26%) than females (20%) reported their involvement in joyriding. Joyriding was also found to be a current activity with the highest percentage of participants being 18 years and under.
  • Forty of the 486 respondents reported that they had never taken a drink and 77 had never tried a drug. Only 21 reported being completely drug and alcohol free. 92% of the sample reported that they drink or have drunk alcohol, with little difference between the sexes.
  • The most frequently reported ages for getting tipsy or drunk for the first time were 13, 14, 15 and 16. Of those under 16s, the average mean consumption for those who 'drank to get drunk' on a night out was 12.74 units; 15.83 for 16-18 year olds; and 17.35 for 19-21 year olds.
  • Binge drinking patterns became steeper among those aged 19-24.
  • When asked if they drank too much, many did not think so. When asked to consider what they drank after having listed it in the survey, 37% altered their opinions. The key signs to excessive drinking were 'passing out', 'not remembering what had happened' and 'vomiting'.
  • Cannabis-based products were the most frequently currently used drugs (61% of sample), followed by methamphetamines (40%), and ecstasy (32%). Young women were more experimental, with higher percentages in the one time use categories. Protestant users generally experimented with more drugs on a one time basis, while Catholics exhibited more occasional and everyday use of some selected drugs.
  • 52% reported previous use of cannabis, with 42% of this figure being 10-15 years old at the time. Inhalants were the second most popular substance used in the past (36% of sample), with 79% of this use reported between the ages of 10 and 15. Ecstasy came third in this list (35%), mostly between 16-21 year olds.
  • 55% of those currently using drugs obtain them from a friend, followed by a dealer, several dealers, paramilitaries, and family members.
  • 63% reported that young people took drugs because 'they want to', followed by 'to chill out', 'for the excitement of it', and 'the only thing to do around here'.
  • The three most common forms of contact with police personnel were: 'I was stopped and questioned', 'I was asked to move on', and 'they searched me'. Significant variations occurred between Catholic and Protestant respondents with regard to certain responses.
  • 62% had had their names written in police notebooks as a warning, and 20% had been formally charged or arrested. 329 reported some form of general contact with the police; 68% of whom reported improper contact with the police. Those aged 22 and over generally reported the highest frequencies of improper contact.
  • Opinions regarding improvement in the police force since they became the PSNI were unsure to rather negative, and similar in both communities. 30% of Catholic and 31% of Protestant respondents agreed that the police were there to protect them.
  • 10% of the sample would consider joining the PSNI (13% of Protestants and 8% of Catholics). 63% of respondents did not know the role of the Police Ombudsman.
  • 70% of respondents did not know what restorative justice was.
  • 42% of respondents reported that paramilitaries should look out for their own communities and 32% felt paramilitaries should punish antisocial behaviour. 51% of the former and 34% of the latter group were young people aged 18 years and under. Personal networks were preferred in relation to justice for crimes.
  • 43% of respondents found the city pleasant; 51% found it neither pleasant nor unpleasant; and only 6% found it unpleasant during the day. More Catholics (52%) than Protestants (24%) felt this.
  • In terms of during the day, 27% found the city 'safe', 61% found it neither safe nor dangerous, and 12% found it dangerous. 34% of Catholics and 10% of Protestants felt the city was safe during the day.
  • After dark, 21% found the city pleasant, 44% found it neither pleasant nor unpleasant, and 35% found it unpleasant. Of those thinking it was unpleasant, 32% were Catholic and 42% were Protestant.
  • Only 7% felt that the city was 'safe' after dark; 29% felt it was neither safe nor dangerous; and 65% stated the city was dangerous.
  • 47% of the sample had engaged in 'fist fighting', 39% in acts 'involving pushing and shoving', 39% in acts involving 'kicking', and 27% in incidents involving weaponry. 57% had been involved in incidents using 'threatening words' and 42% in incidents involving 'threatening looks and glances'.
  • 72% of respondents felt most threatened 'outside pubs and clubs', with a further 45% feeling most threatened 'inside pubs and clubs'. 'Crossing through housing estates of the opposite community was the third most threatening environment.
  • 61% felt that 'a lot' of sectarianism exists in DCCD areas, 31% felt there was 'some sectarianism' and 2% that there was 'no sectarianism'.
  • 39% reported experiencing something sectarian through 'threatening words', 26% through 'physical contact', and 26% through 'physical threat'. More Protestants than Catholics reported subjective experiences of sectarianism.
  • Catholic respondents defined and viewed the Troubles as more a thing of the past, while Protestants spoke of them more subjectively and in the present.


  • Similarities and differences were found between and among young men and women, young people from each community, and young people from different age brackets. Young people most often voiced that they 'did normal things' and the questionnaire should cover these aspects of their everyday 'normal' lives.
  • The survey revealed that many young people saw behaviours such as early drinking, binge drinking, experimenting with drugs, going to pubs, sectarianism and paramilitary punishments as normal in their world. They did, however, believe that many things, including their own behaviour, should change.
  • To change what young people consider normal requires change across the whole of society, with re-education for all people, not just the young. Dialogue needs to continue with young people and their views need to be heard.
  • Further recommendations are made throughout the course of the report, including such topics as further research, campaigns, programmes and initiatives.

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