Duncairn Community Partnership

Since 2012, when Duncairn Community Partnership in North Belfast began receiving support from the International Fund for Ireland, it has become one of the more successful projects in tackling the complicated problem of Peace Walls.

Six Security Gates

Six Security Gates A security gate at Newington Street has been removed, there has been extended opening of a peace gate in Alexandra Park, all six security gates on Duncairn Gardens are now opened daily from early morning. Iron grills have been removed from seven homes on the same street and a fence has been completely removed at the back of homes in Hillman Street.

Ciarán Shannon, project manager with the Partnership, says these improvements along the interfaces between Unionist and Nationalist areas of North Belfast are the result of better relationships between the communities, which has seen a reduction in disturbances across the peace-line even during contentious events.

He adds: “Our purpose is to build up relationships and confidence between both sides of our community and getting residents to the point where they are ready to embrace change. We run a series of events throughout the year to bring people together and conduct a number of surveys to gauge attitudes and how they have changed over the years”.

During 2016, there has been an increasing focus on young people. Plans are being developed along with Belfast City Council to provide an outdoor classroom in Alexandra Park where pupils from the Currie and Holy Family primary schools will hold joint classes.

Work has also begun with five post-primary schools to raise awareness among pupils of respecting each other's culture and the dangers of becoming involved in anti-social behaviour. Teachers and principals are helping to identify the issues facing young people from both sides of the community.
Former interface barrier on Newington Street in North Belfast
Former interface barrier on Newington Street in North Belfast
Work to remove the Newington Street barrier in late 2014
Work to remove the Newington Street barrier in late 2014
An interface gate separates two streets in North Belfast
An interface gate separates two streets in North Belfast

Leadership Programme

Leadership Programme Youth clubs and organisations in the area are also taking part in a leadership programme for 40 young people.

The annual visit from Santa to a cross-community party has grown considerably, drawing around 200 children the first year but now more than 1,200. Older people are not forgotten either and take part in craft workshops and tea dances.

The Battle of the Somme and Easter Rising anniversaries provided the opportunity for people with previous paramilitary links to explore each other's culture. Republicans visited a Somme exhibition on the Loyalist Shore Road and Loyalists later visited the Hunger Strike museum at Conway Mill on the Falls Road. 

Consultation with 12 families in North Queen Street over the removal of fencing in front of their homes found that 10 of them would be happy to have it removed. A large problem facing these residents now is anti-social behaviour from within their own area rather than sectarian attacks. Says Ciarán: “That I suppose is a good thing in one respect if not for those who are the targets of the anti-social behaviour.”

Where Peace Walls remain the Partnership has worked with local residents to reimage some of the structures to celebrate local heroes and soften the look of the interfaces. 

Ciarán adds: “We want to ensure that people living beside these structures have their opinions valued. We engage people from both sides of the area. This is not a case of people living in their own pockets behind their own barriers but a genuine attempt to make decisions based on cross-community views. When it comes to Peace Walls it is the people who live closest to them whose feelings must be paramount. Our mantra is that ‘we talk to residents not for residents’.

“We have formed close associations with churches, community organisations and statutory partners including the PSNI and our work on community safety has seen a huge reduction in trouble in the area. This has enabled us to move from merely firefighting on the interfaces to being able to bring forward a planned programme of work.”

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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