Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Peace walls embody our political paralysis

Editor's Viewpoint

With so many initiatives to improve life in Northern Ireland being held back by the political deadlock at Stormont, it is hardly surprising that we report on yet another one in today's paper.

The International Fund for Ireland (IFI), which has done such good work over so many years, has produced a strategy aimed at taking down the 109 so-called peace walls.

The IFI wants them all gone by 2023, but so far just four have been removed.

The organisation says local people have agreed that others should be dismantled, but the absence of leadership makes this impossible.

The fact that more than 100 such barriers are still in place 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement highlights our collective inability to live together in harmony.

The fact that little or no progress has been made to reduce the number of barriers is a further indication of the stifling paralysis of politics in Northern Ireland at a time when so many other decisions need to be made.

The recent High Court decision on the proposed incinerator at Mallusk confirmed that such a major step cannot be taken without the approval of a Stormont minister.

This naturally will deter senior civil servants from trying to fill the void left by the absence of government.

The removal of the peace walls is a complex process that requires the cooperation of local communities.

It also must be carried out at a pace that is acceptable to both sides.

The IFI says that local people are prepared to contemplate changes.

However there is no multi-agency delivery plan or a budget in place to help the communities proceed with dismantling the barriers.

This is clearly an area where ministerial action at Stormont is necessary, but with the corridors of power currently empty, people on the ground are powerless.

The sad symbolism of this is striking.

The people are prepared to move forward, but their politicians are not.

Future historians will look back with amazement at the disgraceful lack of progress made by our politicians, who are still collecting their full pay for doing nothing.

This is quite simply not good enough.

When will this demoralising farce come to an end, and when will proper governance of the province for all its people begin?

Belfast Telegraph

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