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April 9, 2009

Rory McIlroy, the 19-year-old golfing sensation, represents the best of post-conflict Northern Ireland.  Raised as a Catholic, he grew up in a mainly Protestant suburb of Belfast where he went to a non-denominational school, which are the exception in Northern Ireland as schools remain highly segregated. 

This segregation extends to sports which are often played along sectarian and class lines. To simplify greatly: Catholics follow the Irish sports of hurling and Gaelic football and support the Irish Republic’s soccer team. Working-class Protestants support the Northern Ireland soccer team while middle-class Protestants play rugby and cricket.

But McIlroy, one of the hottest golfers in the world, has achieved that rare feat: everyone in Northern Ireland, both Protestant and Catholic, wants him to succeed.

Question to the Blogosphere:  Can you think of other people in the world who had brought divided societies together like Mr. McIlroy?  What role should education serve in promoting the recognition of common ground in a society?  In other words, does the fact that the schools in Northern Ireland are still very segregated diminish the likelihood for sustainable peace in Northern Ireland?  Do you think McIlory’s experience is repeatable in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, or are there other institutional factors in other countries that prevent minority ethnic groups in neighborhoods from thriving?

One Comment leave one →
  1. jack betal permalink
    September 29, 2009 10:55 am

    A rare feat up till now when he has openly admitted his allegiance to Britian over Ireland when it comes to his Olympic team.A good Catholic Unionist??

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