“Do we even listen to ourselves anymore”? Workers Party representative Chris Bailie has asked after this week’s announcement of work on the wall dividing the New Lodge and Tiger’s Bay areas.
“Media coverage, and some local commentators, have announced that “one of the oldest peace walls in Belfast has been demolished”. No it hasn’t, and there are no signs that it is going to be”, Chris says.
“Whatever the arguments that this somehow represents ‘progress’, the grim reality is that this dividing wall is being rebuilt, given a cosmetic make over and handed a new lease of life”. he said.
“We are deluding ourselves about what progress looks like, then we try to convince the rest of the world that this society is moving forward” added Chris.
“There are over 100 dividing walls and barriers in Northern Ireland. Over one third of them erected since the paramilitary ceasefires in 1994.
“North Belfast is scarred by them as they snake their way across and around the local community. We even have a dividing wall running through the middle of Alexandra Park”.
“Ten years ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly committed itself to the removal of all ‘peace walls’ by 2023. Yet in 2020 the Alliance party’s Naomi Long in her role as Minster for Justice publicly welcomes the rebuilding of one of the oldest dividing walls in the city and calls it ‘progress’.
“We are told that one of the features of the new, modern, dividing wall in Duncairn will be an increase in natural light. Maybe those who see building barriers as progress would also like to shed some light on the continued educational segregation of school children and the extreme poverty, ill health, urban dereliction and low levels of educational achievement and employment which blight North Belfast and other areas.
That would be progress indeed”, concluded Chris.