Improved

Improved security is key to changing views about Peace Wall removal or reduction

Published on:  24 Oct 2017

The majority of residents living closest to Peace Walls say that improving safety and security is the most effective way to change attitudes to potential barrier removal or reduction.

 That is one of the key findings from a new series of six in-depth local studies commissioned by the International Fund for Ireland and launched today at Girdwood Community Hub in Belfast. (Summary reports avaiable below). 

The Peace Walls Programme Attitudinal Survey is the first of its kind to engage directly with those residents who are most likely to be impacted by changes due to their proximity to peace barriers in Belfast and in Derry-Londonderry. Community groups supported by the Fund’s Peace Walls Programme carried out six local surveys which have been analysed with findings presented in a report for each area.  A further composite report reflects the averages across the responses from all studies.  

Key findings include:

  • ‘Improved safety measures’ is ranked as the primary factor that could influence positive attitudinal change to the removal of the peace walls across three of the areas and the secondary factor in a fourth;
  • On average 63% of all respondents express safety and/or security issues as their key concern at the barriers;
  • Only 26% had regular contact with the community on the other side of the nearest peace wall;
  • 72% of all respondents want to see change to the barriers in some form either now or ‘sometime’ in the future - be that reimaging, reduction or removal;
  • 13% of all respondents want removal ‘now’ while 26% of all respondents do not wish to see any change to the status quo; and
  • On average, a majority of people in both communities want to see the barriers removed within the next generation (PUL=62% and CNR=73%)

Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland said:

“Peace walls are a constant daily reminder of the divisions that exist in society, yet attitudes towards changing them are fluid and vulnerable to political and social volatility. The findings of these six studies identify that the areas surveyed continue to experience high levels of social and economic deprivation, were hugely impacted by the conflict and continue to experience seasonal interface violence, sectarianism, tensions and divisions, and lack much-needed regeneration and investment opportunities. The findings also indicate the opportunities and challenges that exist for these communities to make progress on barrier removal or reduction so that they can avail of investment opportunities.

 “Any discussions to remove interface barriers can only move forward with residents’ support and involvement and at a pace dictated by those most affected. However, if progress is to be realised, community goodwill and ambition must be met in full by tangible action from relevant statutory authorities backed by strong political leadership. Without this, we may ultimately be taking communities to a place where they cannot advance any further, causing frustration and anger and effectively negating progress made.”

He added:

“At this stage in our Peace Process, and four years since the Together Building a United Community (TBUC) pledge on the removal of barriers by 2023, local communities deserve to know what is planned in terms of delivery, how they will be involved in the decision-making and what protections will be offered to them.”

The Peace Walls Programme is an initiative developed and funded by the International Fund for Ireland to assist communities impacted by Peace Walls and physical barriers. It aims to enable and empower residents living in such areas to reach a position where they feel safe and ready to begin the dialogue necessary for the successful dismantling of interface barriers.

Since 2012, the Fund has invested more than £5million in the programme to enable six community groups to deliver interventions in their area that have led to the successful alteration or removal of some physical barriers and the amending or re-imaging of others.  Each project has reported that such success has only been possible with full consultation with those residents most impacted at every stage of the process.

The projects and areas supported by the Peace Walls Programme are (click on links to download reports):

To view an electronic copy of the full survey results for all projects in the Peace Walls Programme click the links above.

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For further information about our funding programmes, or for information on how to apply for funding, please contact the person(s) or organisation(s) identifed at the end of the relevant programme summary in the areas of activity section.

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