Belfast 'peace walls' get makeover

 

The first part of a project to give Belfast’s “peace walls” an artistic facelift was revealed today.

A half-kilometre stretch through the most polarised parts of west Belfast has been transformed through the initiative by local artists, with images from the North's troubled past painted on the loyalist Shankill Road side of the division.

Organiser Roz Small said: “This is about giving the Shankill people the opportunity to tell the history to the world if they want to listen to it. It is about taking what has been quite a negative energy and transforming that into a positive expression of the Shankill people and community and history.”

In the first stage of the project, named If Walls Could Talk, images include traditional brick houses and community life; paintings of Lord Carson, who led resistance to Irish Home Rule; and the original Ulster Volunteer Force.

Testimonials to those who died at the Somme during the First World War and pictures of Orangemen are shown. It also features scenes from Baghdad’s conflict-blighted Sadr City and Haifa in Israel.

The Shankill Road is one of the most deprived parts of the North, with diminished education and job prospects, and its boundary with the nationalist Falls Road was the scene of regular violence during the 30-year conflict.

More than 40 barriers remain in sectarian areas of Northern Ireland despite the peace process, and there has been renewed violence with dissident republicans shooting dead two soldiers and a policeman.

In 2007 it was announced that a 25ft-high fence would be built at Hazelwood Integrated Primary School in north Belfast to protect residents from attack.

PA