“In Belfast, it’s the people who demand it gets built higher..”

Newshound points to a post from CBS News London producer Peter Bluff – “Barack, Belfast, And “Torn Down” Walls”. The linked video appears to be from 2005/6, but is interesting viewing nonetheless, and the background to the video is online here.

Here’s the sign-off from Peter Bluff

The Northern Ireland Office is simplistic. It will tell you that local communities, fearful of continuing violence, have themselves demanded many of the walls be built. Everywhere in Northern Ireland people know about Obama’s speech — one man said ruefully: “Remember, in Berlin, it was the people who broke down the wall. In Belfast, it’s the people who demand it gets built higher.”

Those demands – and the reluctance of elected representatives to challenge them – are part of the approach that has been exported elsewhere..

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  • frank

    There is a lot of new & good work happening on both sides of the peace lines in Belfast.

    People are gradually breaking down the problems of the past and stopping potential disturbances happening in the future.

    Local community groups are having more interaction across the divide and in time things will change. But it will take time.

    Inter community feuding will always be a problem and this can heighten tensions on occasions.

    I’ve worked with some of these groups & political parties recently, and have found all open to dialogue and discussion.

    Sometimes i have found, that it’s just those from outside who have no real interest or care for those living on the interface who try to use the plight of communities for their own petty political point scoring, thats the problem.

    Perhaps it’s a point worth reflecting on Pete.

    There will always be localised problems, but those issues can only be sorted between those directly affected by the particular situation.

  • Pete Baker

    “Sometimes i have found, that it’s just those from outside who have no real interest or care for those living on the interface who try to use the plight of communities for their own petty political point scoring, thats the problem.

    Perhaps it’s a point worth reflecting on Pete.”

    Yeah, frank,

    That’s the problem..

    We should just let those ubiquitous community workers get on with it – whatever it is..

  • latcheeco

    Na Frank! Good luck with kumbayaa as a career but the problem is that people living on one side of aforesaid wall viciously hate the people on the other side and given half a chance the former will readily torch the latter in their beds and rarely need encouragement from anybody. Neither getting rid of the community worker industry (or is it dialogue and discussion industry?), or even expanding,will change that one iota. Doesn’t mean above strife doesn’t suit some people’s agendas though.

  • KieranJ

    “Remember, in Berlin, it was the people who broke down the wall. In Belfast, it’s the people who demand it gets built higher.”

    No comparison there, my friend. The Germans on both sides of the wall were homogeneous.

    In the six counties you have Irish on one side of the wall and Scots Presbyterians on the other. Don’t try to deny it, the truth has been evident for too many years.

  • picador

    Interfaces Map

    Some of the interfaces (to think I grew up in the days when they were called peace-lines) shown on the linked map could be removed with relatively little pain, e.g. the walls and fences surrounding the Torrens district of the Oldpark Road. Some of the barriers running along Duncairn Gardens could be removed and housing constructed on vacant sites.

    To get even one wall or fence down would make a statement.

    Unfortunately I believe that certain politicians have vested interests in keeping them up. Stand up Mr Nigel Dodds!

  • Chris

    Probably suits Mr Gerry Kelly as well.

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/elections/candidate/28

  • aquifer

    Once up walls are no maintenance, low management, and they cast our sectarian politics in concrete. They intern reserve armies of sectarian spides well away from areas of public resort and commerce. Our mean executive will leave them up of course.

  • picador

    Aquifer,

    Basically it is a lack of imagination that is keeping some of them in place. But the process of dismantling them has to start somewhere. To take down even one would make a powerful statement.

    Chris,

    I doubt they suit Kelly as much as they suit Dodds. After all he and his side kick McCausland have been to the forefront of demanding more of them in recent years, e.g. Mountcollyer, Glenbryn, White City. Walls, fences and intimidation stop the nasty Taigs from moving in. Much better to get them to move (and vote!) elsewhere.

  • Chris

    Picador,

    I agree the DUP stance in North Belfast is fairly dispicable but feel that Gerry’s appearance every time there is a need for “interface mediation” does him no harm.

    Call me a cynic but I think pulling down the walls would hurt the agitpop practiced on both sides.

    Maybe it could be the last act of the Sec of State before P and J is devolved. We’ll see who squeals first.

  • picador

    The failure of loyalist paramilitaries to decommission is probably the main factor holding up the demolition of the walls. Again this is an issue that there is just not the political will to tackle.

    I really hope that the new US administration gets involved. Obama has referenced it (albeit inaccurately) and Hillary has a personal interest. The Mayor of New York has a financial interest. The British government is content to lets thing drift. Lets hope Obama, Hillary and Bloomberg don’t allow them to get away with it.

  • latcheeco

    Picador,
    Get involved in what? What of any significance is happening for them to get involved in? Surely you don’t mean bringing down peacelines? Have you ever been near one mucker? Ask the punters they’re protecting, they’d have you put in the ‘burn for even suggesting it. Anyway, I wouldn’t just blame Jackie Mc D. As long as there are partitioned countries there will be partitioned streets.

  • Sluginarug

    Part one of AlJazeera Documentary on Peace Walls…

    Part two…

  • picador

    L’co

    Have you ever been near one mucker?

    I live 200 yards from an ‘interface’.

  • cut the bull

    There is work going on in interface communities. The reality of how beneficial it is remains to be seen, because people for their own political agendas are great at blowing their own trumpets telling every one of the great work thats being done on residents behalf, yet the residents who actually live on the interfaces have little or no input into any of this work or the subsequent meetings relating to interfaces.
    People are a bit pissed off being told whats good for them by well paid community workers.