Ulster University release new report on public attitudes to Peace Walls.

New research commissioned by the Department of Justice and carried out by Ulster University has revealed some interesting findings about how the public (who live near the walls) view peace walls.

This survey follows on from similar research carried out by the Institute for Research in Social Sciences back in 2012.

Here are some of the key findings;

Peace wall 1

Interesting that 42% of people living beside peace walls have no contact with the people on the other side and 41% of people go to their community representatives to deal with issues or questions about peace walls.

Peace Wall 2

A majority still believes that if the walls came down it would benefit their communities.

Peace wall 3

Security and lack of peace process dividend clearly still a major factor in sections of the protestant community, along with anti-social behaviour. There is still a pretty major gap between the number of Catholics who want peace walls to come down and the number of Protestants.

Differences from 2012 survey and 2015 survey.

Peace wall 4

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  • Kevin Breslin

    Maybe we really need to explain what the peace process dividend is … it’s not about assimilation or abandoning issues, it’s about the potential for developing new partnerships and common causes given the opportunities without violence.

    Just because there are less deterrents to people from differing backgrounds living and working together doesn’t mean there are aware that there are more incentives to people from differing backgrounds living and working together.

    After all Diversity is how people learn new things and make progress.

  • chrisjones2

    “it’s not about assimilation or abandoning issues, it’s about the potential for developing new partnerships and common causes given the opportunities without violence.”

    Try selling that in Ardoyne!

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Interesting word used ‘assimilation’ but behind the Loyalist side of them Peace walls, thats the way them people see the Peace Process ! I think within that mindset “What We Have Left – We Hold to the Death – No Surrender ! ” and the siege mentally is all they believe the future holds for them and further demonisation. It’s going to take a major shift in political and cultural confidence to change this !

  • mickfealty

    Unless it’s policy, diversity is just a fuzzy concept. I wholeheartedly agree with your description Kevin, but you have to conclude from these figures that official policy is working in the opposite direction…

  • chrisjones2

    …and noting is being done to address it. The issues that remain decommissioned are in peoples minds

  • kalista63

    Yep but as was pointed out on Talkback today, the narrative from people who should be leading unionism has become inflammatory eg. Flegs, parades, a general deliberate stoking of the fire (see the 40,000 leaflets)

  • Anglo-Irish

    As an outsider I don’t understand why it appears as though the Protestant community seem more reluctant than the Catholic community to do away with the peace walls.

    The impression that I get is that since the GFA the ‘loyalist’ community present more of a threat to the nationalist community than the other way around.


    Is that assumption wrong? If not why the difference in attitude?

  • kalista63

    Who’s trying to form a more normal society, nationalists/Republican’s or unionism/loyalists?

    Be honest in your answer.

  • Robin Keogh

    The seige mentality carefully nurtured by big house unionism shines through here. What also come through is the lack of confidence within the protestant side of the walls in terms of their opportunities for the future. Obviously both issues are connected. There is a scary failure in leadership here within broader unionism.

  • Carlos Fleming

    Protestants march a lot. Catholics don’t like that.
    In the Protestant mentality the walls are the only thing stopping their areas ending up like Ardoyne every Summer.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Doesn’t explain why more Catholics would like the walls down though.

    The walls provide a screen so you don’t need to look at the marches which I would have thought would be an advantage.

    Have to say by the way that from a British perspective the very concept of ‘peace’ walls is incongruous and it reinforces the “There all a bunch of mad Paddy’s ” view held by a considerable number of people in Britain.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s the words people use to excuse isolation and you are bringing up a lot of the points of why this isolation exist. No one is asking for a culture of conformity.

    At the end of the day the PUP and UDP signed an Agreement that represented common ground not just with mainstream unionists but non-unionists too. So we both know there’s common ground they can work on with Sinn Féin supporters in Ardoyne, SDLP supporters in Balmoral and Alliance supporters on the Upper Newtownards Road and these supporters can abandon their prejudices to work with loyalists.

    Working on the common ground gives people a reason to work together.

    If people had to go to work and had to select co-workers who agreed on every political issue, nothing would get done.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well the figures are academic, because they come from a university it is very good academia. You can’t talk the peace walls down.

    I don’t think diversity needs to be policy based, there are plenty of individuals within communities that can stop them from being isolated. I am basically talking about increasing the probability of interaction, not simply with the other side, but boosting networks inside and out.

    So creating networks of influences is something communities within peace walls can do themselves without political custodians telling them what to do.

    I am a science grad who studies Irish, I’m not 100% “anti-insular”, I’m pro-diversity, people become diverse not only by randomly socially interacting with a broader group of friends but through their own personal development in private.

    So, sometimes these things are not at odds.

    As I said before there’s no problem with people having their own culture, but the primary purpose of any culture is to share it in my view.

    And the critical word is share not impose. All culture faces criticism and rejection, that’s a matter of personal taste at the end of the day.

    I firmly believe in bottom to top leadership on these issues.

    We speak of policy, but I think rationalism goes out of the window when people are looking for a policy based process for integration.

    Why do we need these communities to work together to bring down peace walls?

    Is it the NIMBYism of the middle class fears of working class segregation and violence.

    How can anyone judge loyalist and republicans for separating from one another when their own prejudices (including snobbery) mean they would never want to live, work or meet people either side of a peace wall either?

    Where I live there is really a lot less bother between the Bogside/Brandywell area and The Fountain, but there will always be idiots of course.

    You can have a manifesto full of policies but it’s useless without a diverse range of people with the will to make them work.

  • mickfealty

    Policies are actions, not the pretence to action. Here’s a classic moment from BBC Radio Four from a couple of years ago in which John Kay nearly spits out his morning coffee on the matter: https://goo.gl/39kUyh.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Policies are statements … they are at best a political goal.
    The people on the ground can resist a political goal/policy where they are given no means or no desire to buy into it.

    I suppose you see the scrapping of the 11+ as a “policy” … it’s a great policy, popular in the media, popular for the party who introduced it, even the opposition aren’t really keen on making a counter-policy of wanting the 11+ to come back.

    As far as the system, the political process and whatever you call “Peace Process TM” is concerned … democratically we have decided no more academic selection, and the policy is adamant.

    What real use is policy if people don’t civilly administrate it?

    We have an Alliance justice minister with no vested interest in having them up who could simply ban peace-walls at a stroke of a pen … how well would that policy deal with the underlying issue?

    Do you really believe Stormont can fix the peace-walls issue at a distance with the “action of policy” better than the people on the ground can locally by making their own efforts to tackle common problems?

  • Carlos Fleming

    “Doesn’t explain why more Catholics would like the walls down though.”
    It does though.
    The statistics arn’t suggesting that Catholics want the walls down. It’s not a matter of the “Catholics wanting it more” it’s a case of “The protestants wanting it less”.

    “Have to say by the way that from a British perspective the very concept of ‘peace’ walls is incongruous and it reinforces the “There all a bunch of mad Paddy’s ” view held by a considerable number of people in Britain.”
    That’s not an unfair view.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Fair enough, as an outsider it interests me as to what the prevailing views are.

    I was basing my question on the 57% of Catholics wanting the walls down now or in the future against only 34% of Protestants wanting the same.

    On the assumption that the majority in NI are similar to most people and want to live in peace with their neighbours (combined with my 50% Irish blood ) I have usually challenged the ” Mad Paddy ” comments.

    Perhaps I was incorrect to do so? : )

  • Carlos Fleming

    The wording is “politically incorrect” but I wouldn’t get too bothered about that, the underlying message is close enough to the mark. It’s worth pointing out though that the views conveyed in this survey arn’t “prevailing” in the strictest sense of the word, because this survey was done within the areas beside the peace walls. If you held a referendum on the matter the peope of Northern Ireland ‘might’ choose to remove the walls ASAP.

  • Anglo-Irish

    I don’t get too ‘het up’ about PC unless the incorrectness is done in a deliberate malicious manner in which case I can be forthright in my response.

    Generally speaking it has been my experience that the English have a soft spot for the Irish but they also ( again generally speaking ) tend to have a somewhat hazy grasp on Ireland’s history.

  • kensei

    Bringing the peace walls down and you’d likely have a slow creep of Nationalists moving into the Unionist side, given the demographics.

    This is likely to explain the differences.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Thanks, just seemed a little strange to me as I assumed both ‘sides’ would naturally avoid each other and other than the view it wouldn’t make all that much difference, providing things have settled down a little.

    I knew a woman through business who lived/lives in Sheffield and she left NI as a result of what happened to a man she was going out with.

    She is Catholic and he was a Protestant RUC officer, his ‘comrades’ put him in intensive care in hospital for the horrendous crime of liking one of ‘themuns’.

    That was over twenty years ago and I’d hoped that that level of hatred had subsided to only rearing it’s ugly head in the marching season.

  • murdockp

    Define normal. Support the definition with real examples or normal society

  • murdockp

    This position ignores the integration of other members of the international community into our society