Northern Ireland

Divided society a disgrace says Presbyterian moderator

Dr Norman Hamilton
Image caption Dr Norman Hamilton was installed as Presbyterian Moderator in Belfast

The failure to agree a community relations strategy in Northern Ireland is a "public disgrace", the new Presbyterian moderator has said.

Dr Norman Hamilton, installed as moderator in Belfast on Monday, said he would use his year to encourage debate on tackling sectarianism.

He told 1,200 delegates that this was a problem right across Northern Ireland.

"It is acute in what might be seen as some very surprising places," he said.

"It seems to me that we have all settled into what I would describe as a social apartheid, where it is very comfortable to live without any meaningful contact with folks who are different from us.

"There are huge implications of that, for example, why would anybody want to invest in a community where people don't even talk to each other

"So this isn't just about social cohesion, this is about the health and the future of the province."