Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Let's build peace, not barriers to it

No-one should under-estimate the terror that can be life on one of Northern Ireland's interfaces.

The Troubles may have ended 15 years ago - apart from the sporadic violence of dissident groups - but the sectarian tensions of a divided society lie tinder-dry just beneath the surface needing only a spark to ignite confrontation. It is an often-repeated sad indictment of this province that we now have more peace walls to separate communities than when the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

And now Londonderry is to have a new peace line, a 170-metre long fence to prevent apparently orchestrated sectarian battles at one of the city's playing field complexes. The proposal is only at the planning stage and the local council should think again about this solution to a community problem. Past experience in Belfast and elsewhere has shown that while there are understandable reasons to barricade communities from each other, it is much easier to put the barriers up than to take them down.

Both physically and socially it is a divisive option. Essentially, people are being told that they cannot live together, mirroring the divisions of their own minds. Building a peace line is the path of least resistance and means that there is no imperative for the peace-loving people on both sides to find a common - and permanent - solution to the troublemakers. Why talk when bricklayers can shut your neighbour out of your life?

It is ironic that Derry, designated as the UK's first City of Culture, should now be in the news for the erection of an eyesore, one that says the troublemakers have the upper hand. What sort of message does that send out from a city hoping to transform its fortunes through exposure to the finer things in life? Building this peace line could leave a legacy no-one will be proud of and it's not too late to try to build community pride instead.


From Belfast Telegraph