Brendy you owe my employers an hour of lost work. I read your entire post and I admire you for your objectivity and the ammount of research you put into this. It would have been easy to turn this into a good guy catholic and a bad guy protestant thing but I think you have shown very clearly for anyone who actually takes the time to read this marvelous essay just where the root of the problem lies.
I too come from N. Ireland and I don't usually enter into many of the debates concerning my homeland that have become an annual event around here. Usually they just turn into mud slinging matches and that in my oppinion does not serve any purpose.
I thought for a long time that there would never be peace back home the hatred was too intense and the scars of division ran too deep. But I think (and hope) that change will come. The decent people of NI in two seperate occasions have said that they want peace. There is no place in the new NI for the others and they now know the writing is on the wall.
I was born 3 miles from Kilkeel which is a predominately loyalist town and I know what it is like to live under the Orange shadow. The funny thing is though that I attended the protestant high school to complete my "A" levels (University entrance exams) because the closest Catholic school that offered "A" level was in Newry 25 miles away. While I was there the local unionist MP organized a rally to get the taigs (catholics) out of the school. There were about 8 of us at the time. Parents, students and local officials marched around the playing fields with placards that read taigs out. I remember standing in the school watching all this. I turned to the guy standing next to me who happened to be protestant class mate and said to him, "so what do you think." and he replied, "fuckin' edjits," and I thought well there is hope. This student and I remained friends for years we supported the same football team, liked the same music, the only difference between us was our religion and that never became a problem.
So the long and the short of it is I think that maybe there is a glimmer of hope. While peace lasts and some prosperity comes to the place and it becomes less polarized and people find work and have a little more money in their pockets they will not want to return to the way things were. I am not naive to be talking the short term here but I can see a little bit of it here and there and we can all live in hope, sometimes that's all we have. So for the children of NI no matter their religion I pray to God that their day will come. Den