Removal of Belfast “Peace Wall” is a Milestone in Peace Process
By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
October / November 2017
A milestone in the Northern Irish peace process was reached in September when the Belfast community welcomed the first demolition of a “peace wall,” a ten foot high barrier erected in 1989 between Springfield Road and Springhill Avenue to separate loyalist and nationalist locals, as well as to protect a nearby police station.
The decision to dismantle the wall comes as part of a promise by the authorities at Stormont to eradicate the presence of all Northern Irish peace walls by 2023. Since their construction, these barriers have become known as landmarks of violence, with the communities around them suffering frequent bouts of vandalism and intimidation.
The removal project received funding from the International Fund for Ireland’s Peace Walls Programme. Its chairman, Adrian Johnston, told the Irish Times, “There should be no place for physical separation barriers in a truly reconciled society. The communities’ decision to remove the wall at Springhill Avenue and the alterations that are taking place illustrate what can be achieved with strong local leadership and by fully engaging those who live next to physical barriers.”
“This is about more than just changing the look of this area,” Seamus Corr, project co-ordinator for the Black Mountain Shared Spaces, also said in an Irish Times interview. “The removal of a wall is not a starting point nor an end point, but a significant milestone on the journey towards a positive future.”
The first peace lines were built in 1969. 109 are still in place across N.I. ♦