Naked sectarianism and hatred have risen across Belfast since the ceasefires were called seven years ago, a report claimed yesterday.

While the Peace Process labours on and the world views Northern Ireland as a nation largely at peace, the University of Ulster study of opinions in the city has revealed a deepening divide between Protestants and Catholics.

In particular, it also discovered that the deepest mistrust and divisions are among the young people of Belfast.

Dr Peter Shirlow, a political geographer, based the survey on interviews with 4,800 people.

He said that the findings were evidence of a growing "society of fear".

Among the findings in the report is that 72% of those questioned said they believed the two religions were more divided than before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998.

It revealed that 90% of people in the city live in areas made up almost solely of people of one religion.

A further 65% said they had never had a meaningful conversation with someone of the opposite religion.

Some 88% would not enter an area of the other religion at night.

Another 58% of those living close to peace lines chose to travel a longer and less direct route to find "safer" shops and other amenities rather than go into an area dominated by the other religion.

Only 22% undertook daily shopping in the other community and 72% refused to use Health Centres in the other community.

Of the unemployed, 62% refused to sign on at their nearest Social Security office because it was in an area of the other religion.

And 21% of Protestants and 15% of Catholics claimed to have been victims of a sectarian attack at some time in their lives.

The exceptions to the increasing climate of mistrust were pensioners who had lived through the Troubles and were far more likely to bridge the divide.

Dr Shirlow said: "The key findings are that there is no cross-community social interaction in interface areas because of fear on both sides."

"More worrying, young people are now becoming more sectarian."

He continued: "In some areas, respondents would travel six to ten times further than they needed to in order to access public or private facilities like hospitals, leisure centres, libraries and shops."

Dr Shirlow said that, central to the problems in Belfast and Northern Ireland was a culture of "victim hood".

He suggested that the Agreement and the Peace Process were flawed in failing to address the levels of sectarianism and violence on the ground.