This book describes and analyses the mechanisms put in place by government to promote cross-community relations in N. Ireland. It does so against the backdrop of recent political changes within the Province and particularly within the Protestant community there. The fieldwork aspects of this book broadly cover the period 1994-9. During that time, the policy and programmes under consideration here coincided with several significant changes in the political and civil backdrop of Northern Ireland. What follows is an attempt to represent some of the contexts in which Community Relations (CR) policy has operated during this period. Arguably the most significant event at the outset of this phase was the declaration of cease-fires from both Loyalist and Republican paramilitaries. Potentialities for progress in the area of Community Relations Programmes were now presented and it is fair to say that District Council CR programmes recognised this. Conversely, the bombing at Canary Wharf in London in August 1996, which indicated the end of the IRA cease-fire, inhibited progress. The summer of 1996 perhaps represented a pivotal moment in community relations in the province.
The deep divisions engendered by the civil unrest that met the Orange Order march down Garvaghy Road in Portadown signalled a polarisation at grassroots level. Subsequent trends within vox pop and Omnibus surveys suggest the level of estrangement that was being experienced. Respondents were asked, 'Thinking of Catholics, do you think there is a lot of prejudice against them in Northern Ireland these days?' 15 per cent of Catholics said 'hardly any'; 30 per cent of Protestants said 'hardly any'. Following Drumcree, by January 1997, the polarisation was evident - only 6 per cent of Catholics felt that there was any prejudice against them, compared with 20 per cent of Protestants.