Editorial - Acknowledging our own faults

For decades the North has been regarded by many around the world as a sectarian state.

For the most part, this assessment was correct in terms of both the establishment of the state and in its subsequent policies of institutionalised sectarianism.

This led to decades of entrenchment with two distinct, and often opposing, communities in the North.

When the conflict reignited in the later 1960 and early 1970s the two communities were forced further apart by a security policy which was motivated by sectarianism and the tit-for-tat campaign of assassination which came in its wake.

Thankfully sectarian murder is largely a thing of the past but the attitudes behind it remain.

These attitudes are no longer expressed with such brutality but to a large extent - often larger than we care to admit - they still underpin many aspects of daily life.

Tackling this social cancer will first require an acknowledgement that all of us are guilty of engaging in some manner of sectarianism, however small or seemingly benign.

Changing that will not be easy but nor can it be swept under the carpet. Practical steps, not just proposals and papers, are required from those in positions in authority but everyone has a role to play in breaking down our own prejudices, however unintentional or culturally inherited they may be, if we are to break the cycle.