North Belfast community celebrates peace wall removal

Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, along with Housing Executive Chief Executive, Clark Bailie and residents Paddy Copeland. Credit: Presseye

Residents at a north Belfast interface have held a celebration event to mark a new era after the removal of a peace wall by the Housing Executive.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who was in attendance, said such progress on reducing the number of peace walls and removing interface barriers by 2023 cannot be made without the support of the local community.

The 8ft brick wall, which stood at Ardoyne for 30 years, was removed in February – the first of the Housing Executive’s peace walls to come down. It has now been replaced by a family friendly landscaped area and railings with decorative panels, which local residents helped to design.

The community-led decision to transform the interface barrier came about after years of relationship building and talks within and between communities in north Belfast.

The community was supported by the Housing Executive, the International Fund for Ireland, the Department of Justice, Department for Communities and the Executive Office

Integral to the work is the Twaddell Ardoyne Shankill Communities In Transition (TASCIT) which organised the celebration event together with the Housing Executive.

Rab McCallum, a member of TASCIT and North Belfast Interface Network Coordinator, said it was a positive day for the people of the community, and all those segregated by physical barriers.

Housing Executive Chief Executive, Clark Bailie, said: “The Housing Executive’s role has been to enable the community to take this positive step and remove this physical and psychological barrier 30 years after it was first erected.

“The transformation of this wall will help to regenerate the area for everyone in the community, it will change the physical environment and the lives of those people who live behind it. Today, it’s wonderful to see local families enjoying this new open space.”

The International Fund for Ireland has supported community engagement in the area through its Peace Walls Programme.