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Hopefully now all walls will come down, says Ardoyne pensioner as greenery replaces divisive barrier

By Ann W Schmidt

Published 12/08/2016

Paddy Copeland with his grandson Sean Og in front of the new railings and landscaped greenery
Paddy Copeland with his grandson Sean Og in front of the new railings and landscaped greenery
The new railings which replaced the peace wall on the Crumlin Road in Belfast
The wall being demolished last February

After living in the shadow of a peace wall for 30 years, the oldest resident in Ardoyne has expressed her delight that it is finally gone.

"It's brilliant that the wall's away and people have to move on," said Paddy Copeland (67).

"Hopefully in due time all the walls will come down in this wee country of ours."

On Thursday the community in north Belfast celebrated the unveiling of a new landscaped area that has taken the place of a Crumlin Road peace wall.

It was removed in February and has been replaced with railings and decorative panels that the community helped design.

The Housing Executive owned the wall, but the community made the decision to have it removed.

Andrew Hull (43) has lived in Ardoyne for eight years. He said living with the wall was "like living in a prison".

"Before it came down it was really dark, a really negative thing," he said. "But I'm glad to see it down. It's brightened up the whole street."

Rab McCallum, a project co-ordinator for the North Belfast Interface Network, has lived in the area his whole life. He worked with the community and helped organise the wall being torn down.

"You'd be looking out your window every morning at a wall," he said. "It cast a shadow. It was a gloomy looking place."

Mr McCallum said the area is more appealing with the new landscape, but the physical change is not the only positive outcome.

"The fact that the people are prepared to say we don't have to live like this any more, I think that is fantastic," he said.

Deirbhile Copeland (25) lived with the wall her whole life until it came down. Even though the new landscape has made the area brighter, she still had some concerns over safety.

"I think it could be positive, but you never know around here," she said. "You never know until it's been a few weeks or months or years."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness joined in the celebration and praised the community for their courage. "Real peace is not made by bricks and mortar, but by building respect and trust," he said.

The 8ft brick wall on Crumlin Road was the first of the peace walls to be removed. There are still 109 around Northern Ireland. The Department of Justice owns 51 and the Housing Executive owns 20. Others are owned by various public or private agencies.

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