Tory MP to see how two Belfast halves live

 

Republican and loyalist politicians have given a guarded but generally positive reaction to a decision by the Tory MP, Mr Quentin Davies, to spend a week living along both sides of Belfast's so-called sectarian peace line.

The Conservative spokesman on Northern Ireland will spend three days with a republican family and three with a loyalist family in west and north Belfast from Sunday next.

"I am doing this because as far as possible I want to get behind the veneer of politics," added Mr Davies, who in the past has visited Crossmaglen in south Armagh and marched to Holy Cross school with Catholic schoolgirls past loyalist pickets and protesters.

Mr Davies said he wanted to experience at first hand the stresses and strains suffered by people living at interface areas.

"I want to live in the community. I hope to visit clubs, pubs and shops and see, hear and feel what people are thinking," he said.

He rejected complaints from some republican and loyalist community activists that his visit would be a "publicity stunt" and explained that through local intermediaries a republican and a loyalist family had agreed to house him for the visit.

He declined to name the families at this stage.

Mr Davies said he was fully conscious of how some Belfast people, particularly republicans, might view the party of Margaret Thatcher that was noted for its antagonism to republicanism.