Residents of the unionist Springmartin Road in Belfast do not want to see a huge peace wall removed despite demolition work beginning yesterday on a separate security wall in a nearby nationalist area.
Work began yesterday to take down a barrier between Springfield Road and Springhill Avenue which was erected in 1989. The decision to remove it is reported to have community backing.
When the News Letter visited Springmartin Road yesterday unionists said they didn’t want a wall in their area to suffer the same fate.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, said without the huge peace wall, which runs along the Springmartin Road and incorporates New Barnsley police station, he would feel vulnerable.
Another resident said that although the wall was a “monstrosity” she had grown used to it over the years and would not want to see it go for security reasons.
DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey, who lives in the shadow of the peace wall said: “Work began on that peace wall the day the IRA called its fire ceasefire (in 1994). It’s a permanent reminder of the past but it gives the unionist people a sense of security.
“Up until very recently people were living with grills on their windows because of constant attacks.”
Mr McCoubrey said the area received a chilling reminder of the past in 2013 when a mortar device, apparently aimed at New Barnsley police station, was discovered and prompted a large scale evacuation.
He added: “The confidence is not there that would allow this community to enter into a conversation about the removal of this peace line. When a gate was taken away from the wall without consultation there was uproar.”
On the other side of the Springfield Road, Seamus Corr, project coordinator for the Black Mountain Shared Spaces Project, said the removal of the Springhill Avenue barrier was “a significant step forward for the local community”.