Peaceline to run through integrated primary…

New start at Stormont, but Belfast is still finding ways to continue to segregate its population. This time, bizarrely, the Peace Wall is to be built in the middle of the playground of Belfast’s only Integrated Primary School. Kathryn Torney in the Belfast Telegraph:

Despite Northern Ireland moving into a new era, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal that the Northern Ireland Office is planning to erect a new peaceline – in the playground of an integrated primary school. A 25ft-high fence is to be built in the grounds of Hazelwood Integrated Primary School in north Belfast. The NIO has decided to proceed with a controversial plan to erect a towering security fence behind the Whitewell Road building – despite serious concern expressed by the school.

The plan has been confirmed just weeks after the Secretary of State Peter Hain insisted that the Government was committed to “removing barriers” dividing communities in Northern Ireland, and as a new era of power-sharing gets under way at Stormont.

Hazelwood Integrated Primary, which opened in 1985 and caters for more than 400 pupils from both sides of the community, is still the only integrated primary school in the north of the city. The decision was taken to build a peace ‘wall’ on land currently used as the children’s playground following attacks on Catholic homes in the nearby Throne Park area last summer.

It is understood that the perpetrators may have crossed through the school’s grounds to gain entry to the area.

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  • wild turkey

    good morning mick

    article already posted by belfast gonzo at 12:17 today. anyway as i stated earlier

    ’A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said: “The minister has – on advice from the PSNI – agreed that a mesh fence should be erected to protect residents living in the Throne Park area. This decision was taken only after extensive consultation with residents, political representatives and the school.” ‘

    Extensive consultation?

    Betcha Hazelwood Primary was dead set against the fence/wall. What weight was given to the views of the school? I know as a parent of two children who attend the school, my views were not sought in any consultation.

    But then again based on their previous consultation track record, why would the neo-colonials in the NIO give a shit. It would not be surprising if the decision was made and the ‘extensive’ consultation was a scam.

    Residents and political representatives? Who, when, where, what..etc, etc?

    and the clincher is ‘the NIO could not give a cost for the fence’. FFS

    right folks compare and contrast the following;

    A. NIO lack of accountability in the decision making process and even the book keeping and

    B. Government witholding funds from the Rape Crisis Centre because of ‘alledged’ financial mismanagment.

    Is there anyway to send ‘minister’ goggins and the rest of the honkey chickenshits, spokesmen included, back to london? preferably on the hindenburg.

  • austin

    Sad, but as the reporter says if it prevents further attacks on catholic residents by loyalists, then the decision is right.

    Kids should be protected from sectarianism in the schoolyard but they should also be protected in their homes when they are sleeping in their beds at night.

  • Iano

    caters for more than 400 pupils from both sides of the community

    Think about it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Late night last night… going to bed shortly!!

  • vinty

    Perhaps Jackie McDonald could encourage the residents of White city from trying to burn children to death in their beds.

    Maybe give them some of their million quid !!

  • susan

    Excellent, excellent post, Wild Turkey.

    Can’t believe you had the brass neck to call anyone “honky”, though. For all our differences, we are still wan people. :o)

  • arthur

    Residents of Old Throne Park, interviewed on the local news this evening said that police could not give them any commitments regarding their families security and said that their only hope of some kind of protection, was a large fence.

    The residents did not seem overjoyed by the fact that their only chance of protecting their children was a 25 foot wire fence, but they were more concerned with having some kind of protection from the White City area.

    Its another reality check for those who see the Assembly as some kind of ‘magic cure’ for the in-bred sectarianism of Belfast & beyond.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Whether the school is an integrated, maintained or controlled one is a complete irrelevance- though I accept the irony of the situation.

    This step has been taken in an attempt to prevent children and parents from being burned to death in their beds, as nearly happened last year when loyalists used the school grounds to gain access to the back of catholic-owned homes and set fire to oil tanks.

    As a teacher, I fully appreciate parents and staff having concerns about the aesthetic appearance of the school; the first action I perform in my classroom every morning is to turn the key opening the metal shutters that prevent my classroom windows from being smashed when school’s out. It’s a practical necessity, though anyone looking at the school before 8am and after 4.30pm would believe it was more of a prison than a school.

    But those concerns are far outweighed by the real fears of families residing in adjacent homes that this Summer may see a return of the sectarian arsonists.

    On a factual note, this is not the only school in Belfast which will be in the shadow of a looming peace wall. The newly-constructed St. Clare’s school is sited along the peace wall in Clonard.

  • Dec

    Residents of Old Throne Park, interviewed on the local news this evening said that police could not give them any commitments regarding their families security and said that their only hope of some kind of protection, was a large fence.

    What about fire blankets?

  • SuperSoupy

    Running through the school and in the playground is all very emotive but is it precise language?

    I don’t know the area so tried to look at a map online.

    Is this the area?

    Is the fence going to really run through the school or along the edge of the grounds beside the houses?

    Either way people’s lives triumph the aesthetics of a school.

  • vinty

    “What about fire blankets?”

    Dec

    Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw of the PSNI was keeping an open mind when houses were burning in the area, perhaps he missed the 20ft high flames or the loyalist threats to ‘burn the taigs out’ prior to some of the attacks.

    Fire blankets & wire fences, perhaps we will need to pay water charges to pay for the fire blankets & cages

  • wild turkey

    super soup

    yeah that’s the area alright.

    and yeah, fair enough, the basic safety and welfare of residents should, in the absence of any viable alternatives be the trump card.

    however, my concerns and questions are these (and I admit a bias as I have two kids at the school)

    1. in the alleged consultation process, what alternative remedies were presented to protect the attacked population?

    2. the NIO statement mentions consultative engagement with ‘political representatives’. what efforts were made to have some political representatives make credible efforts to call off/stop the attacks? It seems the current solution accepts continued attacks as a foregone and inevitable occurence.

    3. It is not merely an aesthetic issue. it is seriously gonna mess with the well being and happiness of children attending the school. evidence? wanna talk with my kids? they are really looking forward going to a school with the 2007 equivalent of checkpoint charley and the maginot line.

    sorry SS, nothing personal… let me rephrase that. maybe the political representatives of those who carry out the attacks should talk with my kids and their school friends?

    a final reflection… any reactions from the quango industry, e.g. the childrens commissioner or childrens law centre on this one? they weighed in heavily on ASBOs but this one is probably beyond them

    PS to Mr Donnelly

    ‘Whether the school is an integrated, maintained or controlled one is a complete irrelevance- though I accept the irony of the situation.’ Such an admirable generosity Who said americans don’t have a sense of irony. I know my kids Stokley and Aretha do.

  • USA

    I have to agree with the points raised by Wild Turkey and would like to see the NIO document their decision making process, community consultations etc.
    It is disgraceful that sectarian bigots are permitted to infringe on the lives of school children.
    The Holy Cross situation actually made the news here in the US and loyalist community came off very badly indeed, and rightly so.
    Totally unacceptable.

  • davey

    “1. in the alleged consultation process, what alternative remedies were presented to protect the attacked population?”

    The police taking on the uda in the loyalist white city area would be an alternative remidy.

    Or maybe introducing legislation to combat paramilitary bigots parading the streets and poisoning childrens minds.

    http://www.whitewelldefendersfb.com/inmemory.html

  • McGrath

    When does this new devolved government thingy get to make decisions on issues like this?

  • Aquifer

    The logical conclusion of government by SFDUP: repartition.

  • Sad, but as the reporter says if it prevents further attacks on catholic residents by loyalists, then the decision is right.

    While I understand entirely why people in the Old Throne development want a peace line, it’s sad that the alternative solution of catching, trying, convicting and handing down a few exemplary sentences to the bastards who were trying to burn people out hasn’t been tried. Not here or many other places. The Peelers need to get their finger out.

  • DK

    I suspect that the reason the attacks come from behind the school is that there are CCTV cameras on the road in front of the school. Good security lighting and CCTV at the back, or even on the snakey path up to the Antrim Road, should do the job.

  • susan

    To be absolutely clear, of course the safety of the families at risk has to be the single highest priority. But I am far from convinced this move has been thouroughly researched and found to be either the only or the best way to protect and improve the long-term security of either the families or the school.

    That innocent families are offered no alternative for their safety other than the construction of a 25 foot prison fence, sorry peace wall, around their hard-earned homes sends a clear message that there is still a place for savage, stupid sectarian intimidation in 2007 and there is not yet the political will to confront it. Ahoghill and the handing out of smoke detectors and fire blankets is exactly what comes to mind.

    Has anyone seen evidence of what other viable alternatives were offered, or at least researched? For the £100,000 estimated for the barrier — and to my mind the safety of both the school and in the homes of the families living nearby is and ought to be seen as worth a great deal more — are there alternatives that can preserve not only the lives but the quality of life of all the children and families at and near Hazelwood?

    Wild Turkey, how is the school discussing these developments with (cough) Stokley and Aretha?

  • DK

    “Wild Turkey, how is the school discussing these developments with (cough) Stokley and Aretha?”

    While I can’t speak for WT, one of my children is in P1 at the school and all we have had from the school is a short note stating that you will hear about the proposed fence and that the children have never been at risk as all incidents happen outside school hours. They don’t say whether they are for or against the fence.

    The fence is also not really on the playground but in the top corner of the school behind a car park, some storage sheds and a bit of grass that could possibly be conceived as a playground, but more likely out of bounds to the kids.

  • susan

    Thank you, DK. As Chris Donnelly stated, I think the back of the school area appealed to arsonists because it provided a quick route to the adjacent homes’ oil tanks.

  • I think it would be interesting to see the decision-making process. Perhaps some nice journalist could make a FoI request to the NIO to see what alternatives were discussed, and with who?

    Just out of curiousity like.