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Could part of Berlin Wall inspire fall of Belfast's peace barriers?

By Rebecca Black

It is known for its miles of imposing peacelines, but now Belfast is home to a section of an even more infamous barrier - the Berlin Wall.

A sizeable segment of the historic wall has been gifted to Belfast City Council by the German capital.

The council's strategic policy and resources committee was told last month of the present.

It is 3.6 metres high by 2.1 metres wide and weighs three tonnes.

Councillors must decide where to place it.

One suggestion is to install it at a Belfast peaceline to act as an inspiration to remove the barriers once and for all.

The section of wall will form part of the council's capital programme, a rolling schedule of investment to improve existing council facilities or provide new ones.

One of the major projects currently under way is the creation of a new exhibition area at City Hall, which is due to open in May.

Alliance councillor Michael Long, who sits on the committee, revealed one of the proposals being considered for the Berlin Wall segment.

"The positive aspect of this is that this piece of the wall came down," said Mr Long.

"That is what we would hope to do in Belfast.

"One of the ideas is that this could be placed on one of the current peace walls.

"That it could be used as a sign that we could do more.

"It could serve as an inspiration."

A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: "Council has been gifted a section of the Berlin Wall by the Senatskanzlei Berlin (Senate Chancellery, the governing mayor of Berlin).

"This is one of many sections which have been gifted to institutions around the world.

"Council is currently scoping options for its location and how best to display it."

Peace walls here range from a few hundred yards in length to three miles. They were erected from 1969 onwards to separate the warring communities during the Troubles.

Construction of the Berlin Wall began in 1961 at the height of the Cold War.

It came down in 1989 with the fall of communism.

Manned by armed East German guards, it became a symbol of oppression, with a disputed number of people - between 98 and 200 - losing their lives attempting to cross it.

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