What are the Peace Lines?

August 03, 2016  •  Leave a Comment
Evening folks, hope your're all keeping well.

After some time off with my boys, i'm back to work at both my day job and also, in the late evenings, i'm busy preparing some more for the book.  That ranges from the following:

- Cutting the film negatives after they've been processed at a brilliant lab in Sheffield, England
- Packaging the negatives and sending them off to be drum scanned
- Tidying up the finished scan (although i'm very lucky as I have a fantastic drum scanning service)
- Writing sub titles for each piece of work - there will be about 90 or so.
- General communications between publishers, social media etc...

Its a fairly involved job, but I love every single aspect of it.  Feedback from you kind of folk really helps too.

So as I was going through all the negatives from the last two years, I realised that I needed to communicate more about what the Peace Walls/Peace Lines actually are.  Whilst I will obviously explore this in greater detail within the book, I wanted to talk briefly about it here.

Essentially the Peace Lines are physical, man made constructions used to separate communities and to prevent localised conflict.  The two communities that this (largely) applied to were ones containing Protestant's and Catholic's.  They were first introduced in 1971, two years after the start of 'The Troubles'.

The Troubles started in 1969, two years prior to the first structures, and involved approximately 50,000 people being killed or injured.  The conflict continued for approximately 30 years, with the after effects still being felt and harboured today.  Despite their emotional presence being retained by many and their physical one being shown in Peace Lines and murals, the progress Northern Ireland has made is monumental.

The Peace lines themselves were initially seen as a temporary measure to reduce harm and to aid policing of the areas. However, as you can see from the photographs, they are still very much within the geography after all these years.  During their implementation, there was involvement with town planning, where the placement of roads and Police Stations was often used as lines themselves and to act as a more 'subtle' measure.

Peace Lines exist in four areas in Northern Ireland, most of which are in the capital city, Belfast.  The lines themselves measure from only a few metres, to a few miles in length and approximately 10 metres tall.  Their pure physical form is to prevent the movement of persons, vehicles and objects through them.  The lines have witnessed much hurt over the decades, yet in a recent survey, over half the people that reside within their shadows want them to remain.  Their reasoning behind this decision is that they would not feel safe with their removal.

Coupled with the sense of security they offer, there have been huge negatives associated with their presence.  Mental health, particularly with males, is often poorer for those that reside side by side with these structures.  This is something that has largely been ignored or dismissed for years, however there are now organisations who work solely in improving the awareness and support for these individuals.

The Northern Irish Executive have committed to a 10 year plan, where they intend to remove all Peace Lines, walls and interfaces by the year 2023.  Although there has been the removal of some, approximately 100 remain totalling over 20km's in length.  Belfast itself is only 6km's wide, which shows you the scale of their presence.

Having worked alongside these walls and speaking with the persons involved in the communities, I find it hard to believe that the executive will achieve their commitment.  It is a massive logistic, mental and political undertaking.  However, what I have observed is an overwhelming belief that progress is being made at a rapid rate.  Not long ago, Northern Ireland was buried in a deep and venemous conflict.  Now, it is working on multiple levels to achieve security, prosperity.  And I am proud to see what it is becoming.


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