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Feeling's of Minority, Fear and Anger: How do the Peace Lines of Northern Ireland impact on peoples behaviour?

Feeling's of Minority, Fear and Anger: How do the Peace Lines of Northern Ireland impact on peoples behaviour?

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Karin Mccully. Originally submitted for BSc Hons Geography at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer Dr Ian Shuttleworth in the category of Social Studies
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Karin Mccully. Originally submitted for BSc Hons Geography at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer Dr Ian Shuttleworth in the category of Social Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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GGY3009: Social Geography
Feeling's of Minority, Fear and Anger: How do the Peace Lines of NorthernIreland impact on peoples behaviour?
“Peace walls are a rather extreme illustration of the broader reality that residentialsegregation...has changed little since the agreement” (Geoghegan 2010)Geoghegan's statement sum's up what the the representation that the peace lines hold inNorthern Ireland's society, one of extreme division and segregation. With a human“instinct” like that of animals to stay in a familiar group to keep safe, and a lack of anyintegration policies by the government, complete segregation has occurred in some partsof Northern Ireland. Politically the country is divided in half, West of the River Bann votingSinn Fein and East voting predominately DUP. This kind of divide politically has beenpassed down through generations, and helps to carve up Northern Ireland into theseapparent territories. With extreme concentrations of segregation has brought visibledivision into the community. Peace lines today are a common appearance in the street-scape of Northern Ireland but particularly Belfast. However the wall's were originally said tobe a “temporary affair”(Geoghegan 2010) by the Army commanding officer during thetroubles. Segregation off course was happening before peace lines were built, but thesewall's are just a visible form of the previously invisible divide. Since the first wall waserected, they have become an important aspect of life in the country. In 1994, the year which most major paramilitary groups called a ceasefire there were 16 peace lines inBelfast, since then these walls have been extended and made higher. Since 1998 therehave been 9 more peace lines built (Coulter and Murray 2009). In their basic form the ideais to prevent the two communities, Protestant and Catholic from direct contact with eachother. Since the outset, they were created in response to spontaneous rioting and arealways found in areas which have a border between “rival” communities. It is known thatthey spatially separate communities, but they have a much deeper impact on thecommunities which live aside them, creating segregation residentially, in employment,education, consumption and leisure.In September 1969, the first peace line was built in Northern Ireland. Situated in WestBelfast, it replaced a barricade which had been put in place by the residents themselves.This wall was built to make a divide between the Protestant/Unionist Shankill road and theCatholic/Nationalist Falls road after much violence during the early troubles and followed Army presence in the area. Peace lines do not only divide two communities, in somecases such as the Short Strand in East Belfast and the Fountain Estate inDerry/Londonderry it creates enclaves. These are communities which are nearly 100% cutof from the outside with peace lines. Although the majority of peace lines are in Urbanareas, it is still an issue in rural Northern Ireland (Harvey 2010). Most of the peace linesthroughout Northern Ireland are found in less affluent places, with a high percentage inNorth and West Belfast. Out of the 25 peace lines which are visible today, 17 are in the top10% deprived wards in Belfast (Coulter and Murray 2009). Calame and Charlesworth(2009) discuss how these wall's are built with “No overarching logic” to guide their placement with respect to the city. Stretching at their longest 1.6km and some reaching12m in height, and being built with concrete, steel, brick and barbed wire it is hard for themnot to be labelled “ intimidating” and “antagonising”. Richard (2000) explains the phases of 
peace lines, firstly temporary structures at flashpoints, then planned on boundary lines,and then rebuilding. These walls are seen by many as protection from the other side, andmany nationalist communities see them as “the only reliable form of protection” inside thecommunity as the police are deemed unreliable (Calame and Charlesworth 2009). Although these walls were seen as protective, the alarming reality is that 1/3 of allpolitically motivated killing during the troubles happened 250m away from a peace line,furthermore 70% of deaths occurred just 500m away (Coulter and Murray 2009).”In such arigidly divided society, finding yourself on the wrong side of the fence automatically makesyou a target” (independent 2004). Peace lines aim is meant to be protection, but thereason behind them is fear. This fear is of the “other side”, not necessarily the violencewhich can come from them but everything from their ideas to the way they live.Feldman(1991) explains, “The wall itself become the malevolent face of the people wholive on the other side” and Shirlow (2003) states that peace line clearly appoint an“opposing” community.This fear which is translated into physical segregation creates a huge influence on peoplesmobility. If we look for example at Belfast with a population of roughly 270,000 in 2008(Belfast City Council 2010), there are parts of the city unknown to inhabitants becausethey are classed as “no go” areas; a tourist in their own city. A study by Hill in 2004, resultsdisplayed with regards to mobility that 1 in 12 of the population worked in areas dominatedby people of the other community, with 48% not willing to travel during day light through aplace dominated by the other community.In a separate study (Mapping the space of fear research team 2000) done in the NorthBelfast area of Ardoyne(Nationalist) and Upper Ardoyne(Unionist), it is clear that proximityto services does not relate to distance travelled to facilities. Only 20% of the Upper  Ardoyne residents would use the closest facilities which are in the Catholic area of  Ardoyne, with 18% of Ardoyne residents using closest leisure centre in the Upper Ardoyne.This shows that people do not use the services which are closest to their home, butchoose due to the territory in which the facility is situated, “Distance...is not the strongestfactor and does not dictate peoples decisions on where to shop and pursue recreationactivities” Shirlow 2003. The study also concluded that Upper Ardoyne residents wouldtravel twice as far as those in the nationalist community for daily shopping, and six timesas far for pubs and clubs. It is clear that, ethno sectarianism plays a dominant role ininfluencing where residents shop and use facilities (Shirlow 2003).In these economically deprived areas, the money flow out of the area is detrimental tolocal businesses and development with shops and services locating elsewhere, with someform of integration and greater utilisation of services jobs, money and services could beincreased in the area (UU 2000). The majority of consumer interaction occurs betweencustomers and areas which have the same background, but this is slowly changing withthe rise of neutrally sited shopping centres. Also it should be noted that the shoppingdistrict in the city centre remains used by both sides of the community as it did before andduring the troubles.Other statistics from the study further confirm that peace lines have an extreme effect onmobility, 79% of residents stating they would not travel even by car through an areapredominately of the “other community” at night and 14% of 18 – 55 year old's visit areasnot of the same background. Another startling fact is the segregation of education, inFebruary 2010 it being recorded that 6.8% of school population (both primary andsecondary) being classified as integrated (Geoghegan 2010). The first integrated school inNorthern Ireland was set up in 1981, (well into the troubles). Lagan College in Belfast's
outskirts has been a pioneer and example to many other school to follow suit however asstated the number of integrated school still remains very low. Many academics argue thatsegregated education can have a detrimental affect on children as it can allow prejudice toflow freely (Murray 1985).Many members of the Northern Irish community, both Protestant and Catholic questionwhether the peace lines are still a necessary part of the street-scape since the country hasbecome much more peaceful. Obviously there is a need for reintegration to occur throughout Northern Ireland, and the question remains can this happen while peace linesare part of peoples communities. Macaulay (2008) brings forward the idea that they shouldbe removed. In a 2008 study by US-Ireland Alliance, 81% of residents asked were infavour of the removal of the peace lines with the majority believing it was not theappropriate time and should occur when it is safe. Macaulay also discusses 5 steps whichcan be taken for this to occur, firstly mapping of all the peace lines throughout the wholecountry. Secondly consultation followed by local interface development plans. This wouldbe followed by implementation and support, then normalisation. Although the actual impact which peace lines create on the populations daily activities isan area which has not been widely explored, it is obvious that they play an important rolein the mobility and situation of many people. It has been stated that it does impact onpeople decisions on where to consume, where to educate their children, where to take partin leisure activities. Peace lines and segregation are inextricably intertwined, with mostpeace lines being situated in area's with over 90% population of one community. In anarticle by the independent 2004, a comment was stated that “A general view prevails thatany attempt to encourage social integration in Northern Ireland will be doomed to failure”.Integration is undoubtedly a key to a successful future for Northern Ireland, with peacelines being attached to the past troubles. But with statistics such as 92.5% of all publichousing in Northern Ireland is segregated with a higher percentage in Belfast (Independent2004) it is hard to see how this can begin to happen. Many community workers, projects,clubs and societies try to work hard at making integration an achievable goal by facilitatingcross community projects particularly aimed at the younger members of society in thehopes that it will help remove the stigma which has been inherited to them in most cases.In 2007 a study was taken in Derry/Londonderry which gathered the views of localresidents of the Protestant Fountain estate and the Catholic Gobnascale estate and foundthat although the residents lead detached lives in both communities has similar problemsaffecting them. Things such as lack of amenities due to areas being deemed “unattractive”to businesses, lack of proper facilities for children, unemployment and low income are notonly prevalent in these communities but many of the highly segregated communitiesthroughout Northern Ireland. Segregation does not necessarily lead to violence, but thevisibility of peace lines can demonise communities to outsiders. “Fear of attack, theactuality of ongoing attacks...” (Smyth 1998) is what drives many to live in enclosed areas,and with a lack of belief in the police on the Nationalist side predominately, paramilitaryorganisations have taken over this role (however this seems to be diminishing since theGood Friday agreement was signed).In conclusion, peace lines themselves built due to fear create fear. Fear of the unknown,fear of the “other side”, that without the wall could be seen and humanised. Being part of the Northern Irish landscape since 1969 it is hard to imagine a day when the peace lineswould be able to come down. This would have to be a time of political stability, communitystability and be aided with programmes and policies to help the reintegration of society. It

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