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Breakthrough Northern Ireland

2 September 2010

Full Report

While the hallmarks of conflict remain important factors in social breakdown in Northern Ireland, many people face issues entirely in common with social problems across the UK as a whole.

Breakthrough Northern Ireland looks at the increasing family breakdown, third-generation educational underachievement, perpetual and widespread worklessness, cycles of addiction and serious personal debt that are often entrenched in the poorest communities in the UK, trapping some of the most vulnerable people. Northern Ireland had at this time the highest levels of economic inactivity in the UK, and this report looks at worklessness as leading to the inherent disadvantages of family breakdown, educational failure, addiction and poor mental health.

The work outlined in this report shows that reversing patterns of social breakdown in Northern Ireland will require a prevention approach, rather than one that aims for damage limitation or harm reduction. This report highlights the underlying drivers of poverty, and argues that in order to reverse the effects of social breakdown we must tackle these root causes rather than the symptoms alone. Although social breakdown may be more pronounced in a society marred by a legacy of social division and inter-community conflict, the fundamental need to tackle the underlying drivers of poverty and interrupt cycles of intergenerational social exclusion remains the same.