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City council must show courage over peace walls

In 1969, as the first barriers between the Falls and Shankill were being put up, a British general said: "The peace line will be a very, very temporary affair. We will not have a Berlin Wall or anything like that, in this city."

More than 40 years later, the tragedy is that the walls are still there - long after the Berlin Wall has crumbled.

The reality is that local people along the interfaces wanted the walls to go up because they felt they were unsafe.

Unfortunately, many of these same people argue that they would not feel safe without them.

We should not simply resign ourselves to their long-term existence. Belfast City Council should provide leadership on this issue and show the ambition to develop a strategy which will, ultimately, see the removal of some peace walls after detailed and sensitive dialogue with local people.

It is disappointing that some parties believe the time is not right for such a discussion.

Our ambition is that Belfast should be much greater than this.

A shining example of an interface that has been transformed is the Suffolk and Lenadoon interface in west Belfast, where a vandalised set of flats has been developed into a genuinely shared space.

Two brave peace-builders - Jean Brown and Renee Crawford - were at the heart of the change in Suffolk/Lenadoon.

It is time for Belfast City Council to display that same courage.

CLLR TIM ATTWOOD (SDLP)

Belfast City Council

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