Two-thirds ‘would feel unsafe’ if NI peace walls removed

Peace walls have been part of the landscape of Northern Ireland for nearly 50 years. Credit: UTV

Almost two-thirds of people who live in interface areas of Northern Ireland divided by ‘peace walls’ have said they would feel unsafe if the walls were removed.

A new report has also revealed that only a quarter of those interviewed had regular contact with the community on the other side of their nearest dividing wall.

However, the majority – 62% in what the report calls the protestant/unionist community and 73% in what it calls the catholic/nationalist community – do say they want to see the barriers removed within the next generation.

It is almost 50 years since the first peace wall was erected and now, more than two decades after the ceasefires, there are still more than 100 of the structures separating communities.

Graffiti on a peace wall in Belfast. Credit: UTV

There was a government pledge in 2013 to have all peace walls removed by 2023.

But the report published on Tuesday, commissioned by the International Fund for Ireland, has revealed many of those living at interfaces are not ready for them to come down.

It marks the first time a report has looked at residents living in such close proximity to the interfaces, focusing on six areas in Belfast and in Derry.

Despite the figures, those working at interfaces insist that progress is slowly being made, as Sarah Clarke reports.

  • Sarah Clarke reports on the peace walls still dividing NI