Launch of study into Northern Ireland social exclusion and sport

Almost 90 per cent of people in Northern Ireland believe that sport is a good way to break down barriers between Protestants and Catholics.

This was just one of the key findings announced at the launch of Northern Ireland's first ever report into public perceptions on the key issues relating to sport and social exclusion in Northern Ireland. The report by Ulster University was co-authored by Dr Ian Somerville, (pictured) who has since moved to our University's Department of Media and Communication.

The research also found that 67 per cent of people in Northern Ireland believe that sports-based peace-building projects are effective, and this figure increases to 91 per cent for those who have actually taken part in such a project.

The results also show that many women, less well-off people, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay and bisexual, and transgender people continue to face complex barriers to participation in sport and physical activity.

The research, which was commissioned by the Office of the First and deputy First Minister, examined the extent, distribution and causes of social exclusion in Northern Ireland sport. Conducted across Northern Ireland, the research included 104 in-depth interviews, and a survey of 1210 people carried out as part of the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey.

The landmark research reveals that progress has been made by the main sporting organisations in becoming perceived as more inclusive, but much work is still to be done.