“good fences make good neighbours”

Boundary issues of a different kind feature in another Belfast Telegraph report, although the BBC version seems to play it down somewhat…

Derry City Council have agreed to apply for planning permission for a 1.8 metre high, 170 metre long, “fence” at an “interface” at the playing fields at Lisnagelvin in Londonderry –  the UK’s City of Culture for 2013.  According to the Belfast Telegraph report

A litany of incidents at the interface, including sectarian abuse, stone throwing, attacks on the police, underage drinking and the lighting of fires have been recorded since last September.

There have also been sectarian clashes organised by social networking sites and by mobile phone.

This prompted the decision to erect the barrier, which has been endorsed by community groups on both sides of the religious divide, the PSNI and residents.

And the report quotes a number of city councillors

At yesterday’s meeting, SDLP councillor Martin Reilly proposed that council approve the recommendations.

He said: “There has been a sustained level of anti-social activity which has been very frustrating for the residents, but although the fence is not a solution, I am happy to propose approval.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Mac Lochlainn, who is a member of the Community Safety Forum in the Waterside, said he had attended many meetings between the PSNI and others about the issue and that the meeting had been very helpful.

He added: “It is unfortunate that we have to put up fences but there is a saying that goes ‘good fences make good neighbours’.

“The community have bought into this but it is important to put it into perspective. It should not be sensationalised.”

The DUP’s Joe Miller said he supported the fence because it was welcomed by residents but he asked about the timescale. Mr Miller added: “We are coming into the spring and lighter evenings and that attracts people to the area.

“I would not like to think that if we give agreement, then things will drag on and it will be next October or November before there is any progress.”

The paper’s editorial is not impressed with the “new peace line”

The proposal is only at the planning stage and the local council should think again about this solution to a community problem. Past experience in Belfast and elsewhere has shown that while there are understandable reasons to barricade communities from each other, it is much easier to put the barriers up than to take them down.

Both physically and socially it is a divisive option. Essentially, people are being told that they cannot live together, mirroring the divisions of their own minds. Building a peace line is the path of least resistance and means that there is no imperative for the peace-loving people on both sides to find a common – and permanent – solution to the troublemakers. Why talk when bricklayers can shut your neighbour out of your life? [added emphasis]


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