Work started this morning to dismantle one of the ‘peace walls’ at a contentious interface in Belfast.
The community-led decision to transform the interface barrier comes about after years of “relationship building and talks” within and between communities in north Belfast.
The interface barrier on the Crumlin Road, situated at what is considered one of the most contentious interfaces, has been hailed as a “brave and bold step” by the Housing Executive’s head of Communities, Jennifer Hawthorne.
The wall, which was erected 30 years ago, encloses part of the Ardoyne area is the first Housing Executive owned interface barrier to be transformed.
It was erected on the Crumlin Road in the mid-1980s at the same time as new social family homes were built. It was designed then to give protection to residents living at the interface during the Troubles.
Contractors moved in this morning to remove the 8ft high brick structure, which has stood for three decades, to make way for railings and decorative panels.
Rabb McCallum, of the Twaddell Ardoyne Shankill Communities In Transition (TASCIT) group, an IFI Peacewalls project, said: “This is a brave and a bold step taken by residents who have seen more than their fair share of the conflict yet have an eye on the future and a better way of life for themselves and their families.
“Hopefully, their course of action will inspire others to consider how we move forward together as a society.”
Housing Executive Head of Communities, Jennifer Hawthorne, said: “This is an important moment in the Housing Executive’s 45-year-old history, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the community who are taking this brave step forward.
“It’s a community led project, which was initiated by the community. The Housing Executive’s role has been to enable the community to take this positive step and remove this physical and psychological barrier 30 years after it was first erected.
“The transformation of this wall will help to regenerate the area for everyone in the community, it will change the physical environment and the lives of those people who live behind it.”