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The purpose of this paper is to review psychology-based programmes, which were developed to bring together children and young people from Protestant and Catholic backgrounds following the outbreak of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The authors focused on reporting findings from early research papers and reviews as well as more recent studies. They examined the role of holiday schemes and then the development and evaluation of inter-school contact schemes. The findings highlight the strengths and weaknesses associated with peace programmes for youth in Northern Ireland. The paper argues the importance of these programmes for conflicted societies, provided that they are based on current research. The authors believe the work from Northern Ireland reviewed here has important implications for activities aimed at improving intergroup relations in other societies. These findings will be of interest to researchers, policy makers and practitioners alike. © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

Publication Date





69 - 75