Changing make-up: Catholic Family

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Sean McAughey who has four children, believes young Catholics are feeling increasingly self-confident in Belfast. His children attend schools in which they speak Gaelic, although he never did himself, and they seem more outspoken than his generation.

"My 15-year-old son, Sean Og, has more confidence then I did at 15. He will not stand for a lot of the injustices that we did and youngsters in general will not tolerate the intolerable simply because of the religious views they hold ... They are more intelligent than we were and they have gained from education. I feel that many Protestant, working class children are playing catch-up to them now."

Mr McAughey, who is 43, lives with his family on the Lower Ormeau Road, a notorious sectarian flashpoint. He feels shifting power structures are benefiting the growing Catholic minority but are still far from from completion.

"I do not feel safer just because the Catholic population is growing. I do not consider Belfast's problem to be a sectarian one and it is not so much an issue about population as it is about power. We need to address the institutionalised hatred that has become so normal in Belfast."

Mr McAughey said the religious stigma surrounding contraception had diminished, a process which could affect population numbers. "Catholic families still have the edge on having more children but I think we are becoming more practical and I certainly do not say no to contraception to my children," he added.