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Belfast peace barrier's removal should be just the start

Published 08/03/2016

I WAS delighted to see the removal of another peace barrier in Belfast.

Having twice formally raised the need to remove these barriers, which prevent us being a normal society, in the last six years or so as a member of Belfast City Council (and received unopposed support), we have achieved too little.

I am aware of the fears of local people, who live near the barriers, but there are barriers which local people are prepared to see opened/removed/improved.

We have seen local activists prepare plans which are acceptable to local people and which are stymied by politicians and bureaucrats and the inevitable bleat that we have no funds.

Peace wall removal has been in the Programmes for Government for years. Why is the money not sitting ready to be used quickly and efficiently?

If local progressive activists get substantial agreement, then politicians have no right to interfere to stop the progress.

Politicians should be leaders going forward - not followers going backwards.

As David Ford, Minister of Justice, recently commented (on his department's progress): considerable, but too slow.

By my counting, that is three ministers who have said largely the same thing. So, what is stopping them getting a move on for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland - including the uncomplaining taxpayers?

TOM EKIN

Former Lord Mayor of Belfast

Belfast Telegraph

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