Cross Community Experiences

By: Eileen Starr  

For the past 96 years Ireland has been divided, six counties in the North part of the United Kingdom and an independent nation in the South. Despite multiple peace agreements, sectarian violence continues. During the reenactment period in July, traditions dating back to the 17th century exacerbate the escalation. Long held values and historical trauma reinforce division and violence. Research indicates that primary conflict during adolescence impacts personal and social identity (Coon and Mitterer, 2009). Shepard (2007) determined that exposure to long-term violence and community discord impairs development and increases psychiatric symptomology. This research study explores the relationship between the Ulster Project Delaware (UPD) and good will and negative stereotyping of “The Other." UPD is a cross-community integration program for adolescents (ages 14-16) exposed to sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. This study highlights youth’s involvement in UPD. For example, the importance of continuing UPD, despite the 1998 Belfast Peace Accord and the official end of “The Troubles” is to offset the on-going consequences of sectarian violence due to historical and intergenerational trauma. Our interactive presentation includes de-identified audio clips from individual interviews sharing not only their experiences as an adolescent participating in UPD, but also their exposure to community violence and the impact in their lives across the lifespan. Implications for the continuation of UPD and associated interventions will also reviewed. Participants will explore implications for practice in their countries.

Peace and Conflict
Identity and Belonging
Workshop Presentation

Eileen Starr

Assistant Professor, Social Work, Metropolitan State University-Denver

Eileen Frances-McInerney Starr, MSW, LCSW, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Metropolitan State University-Denver. She has extensive experience in clinical practice, supervision, and program development/management in marginalized and conflicted communities. Her research interestes are resiliency in conflicted communities, improving the lives of children, adolescents, and families, especially in marginalized populaitons. Her international efforts have focused on cross-community programs working towards decreasing violence, increasing tolerance and goodwill to support children and youth in divided societies. Dr. Starr continues to explore opportunities to assist conflicted communities as they work to address the needs of their neighborhoods, towns, and cities.