PEACELINES – the future?

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    • #709837
      Starch
      Participant

      Hi guys, I’m surprised that this has never been discussed on Archeire before, it being probably the most intensely charged urban areas in Europe. Just reading in the Independent that a majority of people in the North believe it is too soon for the so-called “peacelines” in Belfast to be removed, More than four-fifths of respondents said they wanted the fences to be removed, but the vast majority of those say it is still too soon to do so. I would be interested to hear your opinions, about the role urban design plays in such conflicts – is it a sypmtom or a cause, what role does it have in future integration? Personally what I’m worried about in these areas, is that private investment is driving redevelopment, these investors have no problem in developing cheap land on effective no man’s land – the problem is that such investment is driven by profit and not integration and so they are effectively reinforcing the segregation. http://www.flickr.com/photos/10278583@N00/ great photos by Frankie Quinn on Flickr

    • #797496
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Starch wrote:

      Hi guys, I’m surprised that this has never been discussed on Archeire before, it being probably the most intensely charged urban areas in Europe. Just reading in the Independent that a majority of people in the North believe it is too soon for the so-called “peacelines” in Belfast to be removed, More than four-fifths of respondents said they wanted the fences to be removed, but the vast majority of those say it is still too soon to do so. I would be interested to hear your opinions, about the role urban design plays in such conflicts – is it a sypmtom or a cause, what role does it have in future integration? Personally what I’m worried about in these areas, is that private investment is driving redevelopment, these investors have no problem in developing cheap land on effective no man’s land – the problem is that such investment is driven by profit and not integration and so they are effectively reinforcing the segregation. http://www.flickr.com/photos/10278583@N00/ great photos by Frankie Quinn on Flickr

      An excellent idea for a thread – it was not so long ago that I was in Belfast asking planners similar questions as to the development challenges the lines pose.

      Without meaning to deviate too far from your topic, namely Belfast peace lines, it is with regret that it would appear that DCC are involved in putting peace lines in – ironically as Belfast takes them out!

      Obviously these have nothing to do with sectarian conflict, but what else can one call the following fences and walls recently erected across roads and thoroughfares in the Summerhill area, namely Sean O’ Casey Avenue cut from Summer Street, and connecting streets with Rutland Street Lower?

      Certainly these areas have had issues with stolen cars and anti-social behaviour, but would cameras and other measures, rather than walls and fences not have been preferable?

      Ultimately the effect is imo to create a permanently aggressive athmosphere to the effected areas, and as for the use of cheap nasty galvinised fence right across a new street just redeveloped by the corpo, is well, breathtaking. For those familiar with the Church facade featured on the Sean MacDermot St thread, these snaps are just around the corner from that.

      Judge for yourselves – Dublin’s own inner-city Peace Lines imo:

      View towards Georgian house at the top of Buckingham Street:

      And from the other side, towards Rutland Lwr:

      Up at Summer Street, one now meets this wall instead of being able to go through to Sean O Casey Avenue:

      While back again, further down Lwr Rutland Street, there is now this fence across the steps:

      Totally unsatisfactory and unsustainable imo – it feels like being in 1980s Berlin!

    • #797497
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      hutton: Are you sure these are ‘official’? – they look awfully home-made to me. Is this not just a developer/residents’ group trying it on? If they are official, then you can just forget any notion of regeneration (whatever that means). However, the die was cast when the private street was created in the first phase of the Docklands (I don’t know the name of the street/building, but I think it’s on the site of a former An Post sorting office); there is also the disgrace that there’s no connection from Mayor Square towards Sheriff Street and the fact that there is an obvious cordon sanitaire between them (instead of intensively-developed recreational open space). Developer-led development = segregation as well as brown envelopes.
      The Belfast ‘peace-lines’ are an abortion and an affront and need to go as soon as the two tribes can stop going to war with one another.

    • #797498
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      That’s interesting Hutton, but I have to say not surprising, many European cities are experiencing a shift in boundaries / territories in relation to mono-religous, social, ethnic or economic enclaves, particularly the UK, in that sense I think we can learn a lot from Belfast with regards to ATTEMPTING some social cohesion (hold your laughter! but at least there’s active movement on issues people don’t necessarily like to talk about)
      Hutton I would be interested to hear what questions you put to the planners and what response you got back. I’m going to meet with a cross range of urban / religious / community related people next week….

      …and to clear up something, if only it was true but Belfast is not removing Peacelines, as far as I’m aware there’s a rolling programme of maintenance and extension / heightening – the most recent I know of was last March

      http://lettertoamerica.blogs.com/letter_to_america/2007/03/belfast_hell_of.html

    • #797499
      admin
      Keymaster

      No question that they will go in time. The only question is when the elements of society that previously needed them feel comfortable enough without them.

      Thankfully they seem to be limited to a small number of urban interfaces and do not affect the more pleasant parts such as North Antrim or Strangford.

      Any news on how Titanic Quarter is doing?

    • #797500
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Belfast is a city I’ve been in quite a lot over the last couple of years – on boths sides of the wall. From talking to locals on both sides of the fence, a lot of them feel that removal of the walls and integration is the answer to a lot of the problems up there. at present childeren are being brought up in a ‘them and us’ sort of society, and that cannot be good. At the time I was involved with a project As Gaeilge in a cultural centre on the Falls Road, Belfast. As far as I remember there was at least one all Irish speaking school after opening in the area, with children from both sides of the fence attending. (when i speak of both sides of the fence, I mean living close enough to be affected by its presence). For anyone who has ever seen the wall it is depressing, dreary, big and unnecessary. The solution to any problems which remain in that area is integration, and a big high wall with army guards posted along it and gates which close every night has nothing integrational or peaceful about it.

    • #797501
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Johnglas – these fences are official afaik, erected by DCC; it was DCC that redeveloped that new st and also you can see a DCC sign on the wall at O Casey Ave.

      Starch – Im afraid that I cant throw any great further light, as it was something that popped up in passing, and it was a collegue that was dealing with it.

      @djasmith wrote:

      For anyone who has ever seen the wall it is depressing, dreary, big and unnecessary. The solution to any problems which remain in that area is integration, and a big high wall with army guards posted along it and gates which close every night has nothing integrational or peaceful about it.

      Agreed.

    • #797502
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Hutton: Thanks for that info; they seem are remarkably inept solution to …what? Intrusion? By whom? The neighbours? DCC really should be ashamed of themselves; it smacks of the crudest social engineering, or of the middle classes not having a clue about what to do with the poor and their nasty, brutal vicious habits (the poor, that is). Perhaps the steps are dangerous – they do look pretty decayed – but this should be strictlly a short-term solution. The crass concrete wall and the galvanised fencing speak more of the ghetto and the camp. I thought all the right-on physical planning ‘solutions’ were arrived at by ‘interfacing’ with the locals and designing a partly-social, partly-physical outcome. I see the hand of very old-world municipal housing management here.

    • #797503
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Whatever about what option should be taken, the Dublin “peace lines” speak volumes of the social and policing problems in the capital and the country as a whole. The state doesn’t even really have control of some areas, entire towns in some cases. Walling them off or abandoning them is certainly storing up problems for the future, as Limerick for example has realised.

    • #797504
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I would comfortably bet that these fences were introduced in response to requests from the people who live in the immediate vicinity.

      I lived close to that area for years some time back and I can both appreciate and understand the desire to feel secure in your own home.

      Where I lived there were a couple of problematic “interfaces”. I remember a born-and-bred local from our street trying to raise support on the street to petition the council to have a pedestrian link from a side lane of our street to the back of some flats closed off. It didn’t happen but don’t assume these fences were put there by the council as a result of some sniffy blow-in middle class types demanding social segregation.

      I guess I am objecting somewhat to the tone in this discussion which does not acknowledge the right to be and feel safe in your own home and it’s immediate vicinity. The fences are ugly without a doubt but if they are effective in terms of their intended purpose, then I doubt you’ll find anyone living beside them complaining.

    • #797505
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      In addition to the changing fate of the peace lines, I also wonder about the future of the murals in Belfast. As the barbed wire and fences are torn down, people will find themselves faced with other issues: how acceptable are murals, especially those that promote or commemorate sectarian violence? There is a rich history to the murals. Certainly not all of them are violent (Pete Best, anyone?) but artistic merit aside, these can also pose a problem. If the city is trying to promote a more tolerant society by removing peace lines, it also has to look at the other visual boundaries that exist. Have you really made progress if you tear down a sheet of galvanized metal and find, on the other side, an image of a gunman in a mask pointing at you?

      An excellent article by Neil Jarman on the topic of murals and the symbolic construction of urban space, if anyone’s interested: here.

      If the majority of residents want to see the walls go, then the walls clearly need to go. But judging from the poll, it’s not as simple as tearing down the walls. If the peace lines are to be broken down, then the reasons the walls were put up in the first place need to be addressed. Is it personal safety? Fear? What other steps would help residents feel safe? I’d like to think that urban planning could help contribute to this dialogue, but clearly we have to listen to why the people are so hesitant to see them go.

    • #797506
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      check out this pretty sharp Primetime special report on the ‘Peacewalls’ (10mins) from last night

      http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/0320/primetime_av.html?2351877,null,230

    • #797507
      admin
      Keymaster

      I caught it last night, was pretty surprised to hear that there are 40 peacelines, the whole thing was quite depressing really, little hope it seems of any being removed in the short to medium term.

      The clip made good play of the vibrant city centre, featuring the new victoria shopping centre etc, Its difficult to square the free movement & normality of the city centre with physically divided suburbs … that people wander the city centre freely, but feel the need to retreat behind physical barriers on returning to suburbia 🙁

    • #797508
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Peter FitzPatrick wrote:

      I caught it last night, was pretty surprised to hear that there are 40 peacelines, the whole thing was quite depressing really, little hope it seems of any being removed in the short to medium term.

      The clip made good play of the vibrant city centre, featuring the new victoria shopping centre etc, Its difficult to square the free movement & normality of the city centre with physically divided suburbs … that people wander the city centre freely, but feel the need to retreat behind physical barriers on returning to suburbia 🙁

      It’s crazy Peter but you know somethings which is more bizare…(I need to find the reference for this again but), prior to the IRA ceasefire in 1994 there we 14, as you say there are now 40 physical barriers (never mind the metaphysical ones) …how the hell is this progress, as said in the report where is the people’s peace?

      I do have some qualms about such high profile developments in the city – although they are a good sign of at least some change; the city government is obsessed with sich glitzy projects – like victoria square, titanic quarter etc however in essence you need money to access such developments- to sit and sip cappucinos by the Lagan or buy a 250,000 apartment or to shop in expensive boutiques….these things have no relevance to people up the Falls or Shankill …. it just annoys when when I think of some of the community workers along those ‘peacewalls’ who I went to meet last week and they tell me that they have to fight for every scrap of funding…and they are scraps when they are compared to the money going around……..ok that’s my rant!

    • #797509
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      starch: I’m afraid it is a rant (which is not to say that much of it may not be true) and we really need to ditch the notion that a particular way of serving coffee defines social class. OK, the new flats are expensive, but if people are daft enough to incur that size of a debt, more fool them. ‘Community workers’ may be scrabbling about for money, but – like the poor – they are always with us. What good ‘community work’ does is a matter for debate; the real issue is to encourage voluntary work, regardless of the social composition of the neighbourhood. This argument is similar to ‘the kids have nothing to do’ one – so they are forced to riot, vandalise, assault, etc. – and should just be blanked by any sensible people. Social problems are ‘solved’ by fundamental restructurings of society and the redistribution of wealth – anything else is just tinkering. Of course, the ‘iconic’ urban projects will look tired in a few years, but some of them will make a real contribution to townscape and the sense of civic pride.

    • #797510
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Wikipedia has a bit to say on this – may be of interest. As others have said its depressing that most of these have/ are being erected since the ceasefires 🙁

      Wikipedia wrote:
      The Peace Lines are a series of separation barriers ranging in length from a few hundred yards to over three miles, separating Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods in Belfast, Derry and elsewhere in Northern Ireland. The stated purpose of the barriers is to minimize intercommunal sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics.

      The barriers themselves consist of iron, brick, and steel walls up to 25 feet high, topped with metal netting, or simply a white line painted on the ground similar to a road marking. Some have gates in them occasionally manned by police, which allow passage by day, and which are closed at night.

      The first barriers were constructed in the early 1970s, following the outbreak of “The Troubles”. Originally few in number, they have multiplied over the years, from 18 in the early 1990s to 40 today]

      A paper is also online – Belfast’s Peacelines: An Analysis of Urban Borders, Design and Social Space in a Divided City:

      http://www.mspacenyc.com/belfast.home.html

      and a few other links here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_lines

    • #797511
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @johnglas wrote:

      starch: I’m afraid it is a rant (which is not to say that much of it may not be true) and we really need to ditch the notion that a particular way of serving coffee defines social class. OK, the new flats are expensive, but if people are daft enough to incur that size of a debt, more fool them. ‘Community workers’ may be scrabbling about for money, but – like the poor – they are always with us. What good ‘community work’ does is a matter for debate; the real issue is to encourage voluntary work, regardless of the social composition of the neighbourhood. This argument is similar to ‘the kids have nothing to do’ one – so they are forced to riot, vandalise, assault, etc. – and should just be blanked by any sensible people. Social problems are ‘solved’ by fundamental restructurings of society and the redistribution of wealth – anything else is just tinkering. Of course, the ‘iconic’ urban projects will look tired in a few years, but some of them will make a real contribution to townscape and the sense of civic pride.

      Hi John, I just want to clarify a few things – firstly about community workers- Seriously like these guys deserve a bit more respect (community workers in Belfast are not like your typical do gooders in other cities) these guys put alot on the line to start some kind of dialogue accross the divide- might i add they’re own own personal safety and indeed most are voluntary because the City Council is so hopeless at initiating any kind of reconciliation- they are more concerned at managing disorder rather than making attempts at moving forward probably because it takes less effort) (you can see this in that primetime clip) Anyhow it was Community workers who were responsible for the taking down of the ONLY Peaceline ever at thge suffolk / lenadoon interface last year and who continue to do sterling work there.

      Ok now about coffee drinkers. Belfast contains 9 of the 10 most deprived wards in Northern Ireland. Simple fact: Cappuncinos in trendy coffee houses are expensive, the Titanic quarter is located way in docks – do you honestly belive that member of some families who live on £100 sterling a week will travel down to the banks of the Lagan for Panninis with the kids….these kind of developments have no relevance for most communities in Belfast – they instead play towards the young middle classes and indeed workers now from the republic. I just feel the city authorities would be speding their time more effectively by focusing on the EXISTING city (creating employment, transforming interfaces etc) rather than going off on tangents because the see other cities doing the same things.

      As for equitably sharing wealth then roll on communism…….

    • #797512
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      starch: on your basic premise and on developing the existing city, I couldn’t agree more. And, yes, cappucini and panini – coffeee and sandwiches, yawn – but the ‘affording’ thing: how many of these same families spend an equivalent amount on fags? It’s a truism to say that the rich have more money to throw away, but the poor throw money away nonetheless – but on different things. A packet of fags, or a coffee in a cafe reading the paper? We all have to make choices.
      It all comes back to having ‘mixed’ – in all senses – urban areas, which has come to mean something very different from ‘mixed use’ development, unfortunately.

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