Black Mountain Shared Space

One of the most visible signs of Belfast’s divided communities is the structure known as the Million Brick Wall which marks the interface between Nationalist and Unionist estates along the length of the Springmartin Road.

A Huge Wall

A Huge Wall The huge wall is one of 10 identified barriers separating the two communities living in the Springfield, Sliabh Dubh, Moyard and New Barnsley estates on the Nationalist side and the Springmartin, Highfield and Ballygomartin Road areas on the Unionist side.

The Blackmountain Shared Space Project, which received funding of £151,573 from the International Fund for Ireland in 2016, is working to break down the psychological as well as physical barriers which exist between the communities.

Much of the work, according to Joanna Felo, a community worker on the project, is aimed at building up the required confidence and capacity, which will eventually breach the physical walls, fences and gates.

This was a notorious interface area marked by sporadic outbreaks of violence, particularly during the marching season. A steering committee made up of people within the respective communities has been formed to ease tensions in the area and the project workers have also drawn up a multi-pronged programme to lay the groundwork for further progress.

One recent success was a quilting course involving women from the Highfield and Moyard estate. When first mooted 18 months ago the Moyard residents expressed a reluctance to cross the peacelines but now they regularly travel to the Highfield community centre for the course - many of them brought there by women from Highfield.
IFI Board Member Billy Gamble pictured with recent participants involved in Black Mountain Shared Space Project
IFI Board Member Billy Gamble pictured with recent participants involved in Black Mountain Shared Space Project
Two sculptures were unveiled by Baroness May Blood to replace security gates at the Springmartin Road interface
Two sculptures were unveiled by Baroness May Blood to replace security gates at the Springmartin Road interface
The Peace Wall that divides two communities along the Springmartin Road in Belfast
The Peace Wall that divides two communities along the Springmartin Road in Belfast

Other successes include:

Other successes include:
  • The removal of two barriers at Springmartin Road and Moyard Crescent
  • The staging of a discussion in Highfield on the Ulster Workers Council strike of 1974 as part of the Feile an Phobail - the first time a Feile event was held in the area
  • Bringing 60 people - 30 from each side of the interface - to Belfast’s Cultural Night
  • Holding a residential course on family life at Corrymeela, again attended by people from opposing traditions
  • Two one day training courses
  • An anti-racism course for women in Highfield
  • A week-long summer soccer school taken by coaches from Glasgow Celtic Football Club and Glasgow Rangers Football Club for young people across the interface
  • Family health fairs dealing with issues such as cancer, suicide, mental health, heart disease, dental hygiene and providing physical activities for children.
One breakthrough which helped establish the credibility of the project, according to Joanna, was work to secure £500,000 for the development of sports and play facilities at the derelict Vere Foster site in Moyard. “This showed the communities that we could deliver and that the peace work can have tangible results for very deprived areas”, she says.

She adds: “Given the background of population displacement in the area, interface violence and high levels of deprivation including lack of employment and educational achievement; it is important that the communities are encouraged to look to a future where there can be more contact between them. We are attempting to prepare them for the time where they will have the confidence to engage in greater cross-community activity”.

Contacts for this project:

International Fund for Ireland

Seatem House
28-32 Alfred Street
Belfast
BT2 8EN

Tel: +44 (0)28 9031 2884    

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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.

Belfast Office

International Fund for Ireland
Seatem House
28-32 Alfred St.
Belfast
BT2 8EN

+44 (0)28 9031 2884

Dublin Office

PO Box 2000
Dublin 2

+353 1 408 2130


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