Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Belfast's peace walls get artistic makeover

Belfast's infamous peace walls are getting an artistic facelift, it was revealed today.

Images from Northern Ireland's troubled past have been painted on the loyalist Shankill Road side of the division. More than 40 barriers remain in sectarian areas of Northern Ireland despite the peace process.

A half-kilometre stretch through the most polarised parts of west Belfast - at times a virtual war zone during the conflict - has been transformed through the initiative by local artists.

Organiser Roz Small said: "This is about giving the Shankill people the opportunity to tell the history to the world if they want to listen to it.

"It is about taking what has been quite a negative energy and transforming that into a positive expression of the Shankill people and community and history."

The first part of the project, If Walls Could Talk, is being unveiled today.

Images include traditional brick houses and community life, paintings of Lord Carson, who led resistance to Irish Home Rule, and the original Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Testimonials to those who died at the Somme during the First World War and pictures of Orangemen are shown.

It also features scenes from Baghdad's conflict-blighted Sadr City and Haifa in Israel.

Despite the peace process and power-sharing at Stormont, there has been renewed violence with dissident republicans shooting dead two soldiers and a policeman.

In 2007 it was announced that a 25ft-high fence would be built at Hazelwood Integrated (Catholics and Protestants) Primary School in north Belfast.

It was erected to protect residents from attack.

The Shankill Road is one of the most deprived parts of Northern Ireland, with diminished education and job prospects, and its boundary with the nationalist Falls Road was the scene of regular violence during the 30-year conflict.

Ms Small, co-ordinator of arts and tourism at the Greater Shankill Partnership, added: "The future vision of this would be to chronicle incidents and event through the period of the Shankill history.

"Within that are more of these artworks."

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