Video: Peace wall is demolished in north Belfast
Work has begun to dismantle on a Crumlin Road peace wall that has separated communities for more than 30 years.
Contractors moved in yesterday to remove the 8ft high brick structure, situated at one of most contentious interfaces, to make way for railings and decorative panels.
The community-led decision to take down the interface barrier comes about after years of relationship building and talks within and between communities in north Belfast.
This is the first of 21 peace walls owned by the Housing Executive to be transformed.
It was erected on the Crumlin Road in the mid-1980s when new social family homes were built. It was designed then to give protection to residents living at the interface during the Troubles.
Rabb McCallum, of the Twaddell Ardoyne Shankill Communities In Transition (TASCIT) group, an IFI Peacewalls project, said:“This is a brave and a bold step taken by residents who have seen more than their fair share of the conflict yet have an eye on the future and a better way of life for themselves and their families.
“Hopefully, their course of action will inspire others to consider how we move forward together as a society.”
Housing Executive Head of Communities, Jennifer Hawthorne, said: “This is an important moment in our 45-year-old history, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the community who are taking this brave step forward.
“It’s a community led project, which was initiated by the community. Our 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.”
Alliance North Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister has welcomed the start of the wall's demolition.
She said: “I understand many people living close to these structures still feel fear but I also know the damage they can cause to the health of residents and economic wellbeing of the area. But residents on the Crumlin Road will now see there is nothing to feel apprehensive about.
“Creating a shared future is one of the greatest challenges facing our society. I am pleased we are tackling the problem head-on and building a Belfast in which people can live, learn, work and play together.
“Ideally the number of ‘peace walls’ in North Belfast would be zero but I know there is a lot of work to be done to get to that number. This positive move by the Justice Minister is another step along that road.”