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Working-classes feeling under threat from all sides leads to issues with integrated housing

letter of the day: Divided Society

There is nothing in Trevor Ringland's recent letter (Write Back, October 4) about shared housing that any reasonable person could disagree with if we lived in a normal society. Unfortunately, his letter does nothing to address what makes people in these areas act in a way that is intimidating to their neighbours.

I would suggest that they find justification in their own minds when they look at what has happened over the recent decades. The Cityside in Londonderry has been virtually cleared of Protestants. Large areas of Belfast that were previously identified as Protestant are now almost exclusively Catholic.

An example is the Whitewell area of north Belfast, which 30 years ago supported four Protestant churches, but is now (with the exception of the White City estate) almost exclusively Catholic.

A recent supposed shared housing development in Felden became festooned with tricolours and anti-Protestant graffiti when the houses were being allocated. When it was proposed that another development in north Belfast was to be shared, there was uproar that it was not exclusively for nationalists.

The perceived one-way traffic of integration-then-domination and media bias is what feeds the thinking in these working-class areas. The truth is they feel threatened from all sides both physically and culturally. Their representatives appear impotent at every turn. When that happens, people lash out.

For decades, they have been told that the alienation of their nationalist neighbours had to be addressed (and rightly so). But has the pendulum swung so far that Northern Ireland has become a cold house now for them?

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