Peacewalls 50

An international conference, exhibition and events in Belfast
to mark 50 years since the construction of the first ‘Peacewall’
in Northern Ireland on September 10th, 1969.

Image: Kashmir Road / Bombay Street, Belfast 2019, Photo © James O’Leary

Image: Kashmir Road / Bombay Street, Belfast 2019, Photo © James O’Leary

10th September (Tuesday) 2019:
WALK – 50 years of the Falls-Shankill Peaceline
Meet at base of Divis Tower, Divis Street, Belfast BT12 4QA Time: 16.30
TICKETS SOLD OUT

14th September (Saturday) 2019:
CONFERENCE – PEACEWALLS 50 International Conference
Conor Lecture Theatre, Ulster University,
25-51 York Street, Belfast BT15 1ED Time: 09.15 - 17.30
FREE, but booking required

23rd September – 27th September 2019:
WORKSHOPS – Future Interfaces
PS² Project Space, Spencer House, 71 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FE
http://www.pssquared.org/
to participate contact: curator@peacewall-archive.net

1st October – 5th October 2019:
EXHIBITION – PALISADE - Fragments from the ‘Peacewall Archive’
PS², Spencer House, 71 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FE
FREE, no booking required
http://www.pssquared.org/projects/palisade

3rd October (Thursday ) 2019:
LECTURE – 50 Years of Belfast Peacewalls
Linen Hall Library Lecture Hall
17 Donegall Square North, Belfast BT1 5GB Time: 13.00
https://linenhall.com/events/50-years-of-belfast-peace-walls-with-professor-james-oleary/

Images: Kashmir Road / Bombay Street, Belfast 1968 (Left), August 1969 (Centre), September 1969 (Right). Photos © Fred Boal.

Images: Kashmir Road / Bombay Street, Belfast 1968 (Left), August 1969 (Centre), September 1969 (Right). Photos © Fred Boal.

INTRODUCTION

At 4.30pm on Wednesday, 10th of September, 1969, British Army Engineers, escorted by the 2nd Grenadier Guards, started work on what became known as the ‘peaceline’ in two locations in West Belfast.  Working from either end of a line on a map “determined by a representative body from the city hall”, the engineers emplaced pickets drilled into the road surface, and then unrolled coils of barbed wire between the pickets to create a linear barrier and thereby sever connections between the Falls and the Shankill areas of Belfast.

This action was a response to a meeting held the previous day at Stormont Castle, where the Prime Minister Chichester-Clarke had met with his Joint Security Committee.  The conclusions from the meeting minuted that:

“A peace line was to be established to separate physically the Falls and the Shankill communities. Initially this would take the form of a temporary barbed wire fence which would be manned by the Army and the Police. The actual line of fence would be decided in consultations with the Belfast Corporation. It was agreed that there should be no question of the peace line becoming permanent although it was acknowledged that the barriers might have to be strengthened in some locations.”   

Nearly fifty years later, this ‘barbed wire fence’ has multiplied and mutated into what are now known as the ‘peacewalls’ of Northern Ireland. In the latest Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report, the authors note a level of confusion about clarifying the actual numbers of peace walls or physical interface barriers. The Belfast Interface Project’s latest map identifies a total of 97 peacewalls and barriers across Belfast, 11 barriers in Derry-Londonderry, one in Lurgan and seven barriers in Portadown.  The NI Department of Justice, claims ownership of 59 interface structures across Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) is responsible for a further 20 structures. 

In happier political times for Northern Ireland governance in 2013, the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) set a target of removing all interface barriers by 2023.  Due to multiple factors both local and governmental, only limited progress has been achieved to date.  

Our objective is to mark the 50th anniversary of the construction of the first ‘peacewall’ in Belfast with an international conference and set of related events that will bring together interested parties and experts to think through the contentious pasts and possible futures of the Northern Ireland ‘peacewalls’.


The Falls / Shankill Peaceline. Map © James O’Leary

The Falls / Shankill Peaceline. Map © James O’Leary

WALK

10th September (Tuesday) 2019:
50 years of the Falls-Shankill Peaceline

Meet at base of Divis Tower, Divis Street, Belfast BT12 4QA Time: 16.30
Walk led by James O’Leary - Associate Professor of Architecture at The Bartlett, UCL
FREE, but booking required. Note: Please bring strong shoes or boots and dress for Belfast weather.


Take a walk along the most significant Peaceline in Belfast exactly 50 years after the first tentative divisive structures were emplaced between the Falls & the Shankil areas of the city. Encounter the numerous types of defensive structures, gates and walls that make up this vast linear urban barrier that cuts through West Belfast from the edge of the Belfast Urban Motorway to the lower edges of Divis Mountain. Along the route we will hear stories about the early history of the areas, its role in linen production, the outbreak of the ‘Troubles’ in 1969, the construction of the first ‘peace line’ in Belfast, and how this structure mutated and grew into the 1.6km long barrier that we see today. We will discuss similarities and differences with other divided cities throughout the world, and ask the question ‘Will there ever be a Berlin moment in Belfast’?


Policy and Spatial Development Priorities - Edit from MURTAGH, Brendan - Contested Space, Peacebuilding and the Post-conflict City - Parliamentary Affairs, April 2018.

Policy and Spatial Development Priorities - Edit from MURTAGH, Brendan - Contested Space, Peacebuilding and the Post-conflict City - Parliamentary Affairs, April 2018.

CONFERENCE

14th September (Saturday) 2019:
PEACEWALLS 50 International Conference

Conor Lecture Theatre, Ulster University,
25-51 York Street, Belfast BT15 1ED
FREE, but booking required


As we approach the 50th anniversary of the construction of the first ‘peacewall’ in Northern Ireland, there are a number of questions that it seems appropriate to address:

  • In 2019, are the ‘peacewalls’ still a required security measure?

  • How effective or detrimental have the ‘peacewalls’ been in constructing the peace in Northern Ireland?

  • What is the impact of the ‘peacewalls’ on communal segregation and division in Northern Ireland?

  • What do the ‘peacewalls’ communicate to the public in relation to the current phase of the Northern Ireland peace process?

  • How do we underpin the peace process by creating the conditions where interface communities are content to proceed with the physical transformation and ultimate removal of ‘peacewalls’ in their area?



Confirmed Conference Participants:

Frederick W. Boal OBE
Emeritus Professor of Geography, Queen’s University, Belfast
QUB Research Portal Link

Dr. Jonny Byrne
Senior Lecturer, Institute for Research in Social Sciences, University of Ulster.
University of Ulster Research Portal Link

Nigel Grimshaw MBE
Strategic Director of City & Neighbourhood Services
Belfast City Council

Dr. Bree Hocking
Belfast Mobility Project
http://belfastmobilityproject.org

Dr. Neil Jarman
Director of Institute of Conflict Research
http://conflictresearch.org.uk

Avila Kilmurray
International Fund for Ireland
www.internationalfundforireland.com

Sara Lorimer
Imagine Project
Oldpark / Cliftonville Peacewall Oral history Project

Michael McAvoy
Head of the Interface Team, NI Department of Justice.
https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/articles/department-justice-interface-programme

Ciaran Mackel
Director ARdMackel & University of Ulster
https://www.ardmackelarchitects.com

Suzie Millar
Peas Park Community Garden
www.temporaryplaces.org

Fearghal Murray
Director MMAS
www.mmasarchitects.com

Joe O’Donnell
Strategy Director – Belfast Interface Project
http://www.belfastinterfaceproject.org

James O’Leary
Associate Professor – The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL / Curator of the Peacewall Archive
http://www.peacewall-archive.net

Dr. Callie Persic
Peas Park Community Garden
www.temporaryplaces.org

This event is designed to bring local residents, policy makers and academics together to share ideas and provoke discussion around the future of the ‘peacewalls’ and the ‘interface areas’ adjacent to them; particularly with regard to the Northern Ireland Executive policy deadline of removal of all ‘peacewalls’ by 2023.



PEACEWALLS 50

Conference 14th September 2019 09.30 – 17.00 FREE ENTRY – ALL WELCOME
Conor Lecture Theatre, Ulster University, 25-51 York Street, Belfast BT15 1ED
https://www.ulster.ac.uk/campuses/belfast

Programme

09.15 Arrival (Present your Eventbrite invite at the front desk -York Street entrance)

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09.30 INTRO: 50 Years of Peacewalls
• James O’Leary – UCL / Peacewall Archive
09.45 KEYNOTE: Fifty Years On and Fifty Nine Barriers to Go
• Neil Jarman – Director of Institute of Conflict Research
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10.45 Break / Tea & Coffee served
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11.00 PANEL 1 — INTERVENTIONS: Working with and around the Peacewalls
Individual presentations (15mins Max) followed by a group discussion (25 mins)
• Sara Lorimer – Imagine
• Ciaran Mackel – ARdMackel
• Callie Persic & Suzie Millar – Peas Park
• Fearghal Murray – MMAS
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12.30 Lunch break (Lunch not provided)
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14.00 PANEL 2 — PLANNING: Interface Problems, Policy & Strategy
Individual presentations (15mins Max) followed by a group discussion (25 mins)
• Avila Kilmurray – International Fund for Ireland
• Michael McAvoy – NI Department of Justice Interface Team
• Nigel Grimshaw – Belfast City Council
• Joe O’Donnell – Belfast Interface Project
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15.15 Break / Tea & Coffee served
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15.30 PANEL 3 — FUTURE 50: The next fifty years?
Individual presentations (15mins Max) followed by a group discussion (25 mins)
• Frederick Boal – Emeritus Professor, Queen’s University, Belfast
• Bree Hocking – Belfast Mobility Project
• Jonny Byrne – University of Ulster

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16.30 CLOSING Reflections: 50 suggestions for the Interface?

17.00 Ends


Erased Peacewall © Kreider + O’Leary

Erased Peacewall © Kreider + O’Leary

WORKSHOPS

23rd September – 27th September 2019:
WORKSHOPS – Future Interfaces

PS² Project Space, Spencer House, 71 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FE
http://www.pssquared.org/

These workshops are designed to enable conversations about the possible future configurations of Belfast’s ‘Peacewalls’. Focusing on the ‘Interface Areas’ that separate Nationalist and Unionist communities in Belfast, these workshops examine the potential for transformation of urban areas that have been affected through the course and aftermath of political conflict.
By using maps, drawings, models and projections, the aim of these workshops is to provide an environment and tools for Interface residents and interested parties to discuss the very complex situational forces that are at play in these areas and provide a way of working within and around this complexity. This involves exploring ways to analyse and communicate the dynamics of each site, as well as developing a means of proposing agreed levels of change with respect to it.

If you would like to contribute or participate in a workshop, please contact: curator@peacewall-archive.net


Peacewall Archive © James O’Leary

Peacewall Archive © James O’Leary

EXHIBITION

1st October– 5th October 2019:
EXHIBITION: PALISADE - Fragments from the ‘Peacewall Archive’
PS², Spencer House, 71 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FE
FREE, no booking required - Opening hours: Tues-Sat 12-4pm
http://www.pssquared.org/projects/palisade

The Peacewall Archive aims to provide a definitive online documentation of the Belfast 'Peacewalls' in Northern Ireland. Through photography, maps, drawings, video, text and audio, this archive aims to document the steady growth and hesitant removal of interface barriers in Belfast from 1969 to the present day.

This project was instigated after the removal and replacement of the Workman’s Gate Entrance at the Falls/Shankill Interface on Belfast's Lower Springfield Road in April 2015. This particular event confirmed the growing fact that the Interfaces/Peacewalls in Belfast are slowly changing, and will do so with growing frequency as we approach the Northern Ireland Executive’s target of complete removal of all interface barriers by 2023. Locally, the existence of this archive will serve as further evidence that the physical interfaces are going through a process of removal, changing in state from physical artefacts to digital archive. On a global level, the website will serve as a record, and perhaps a warning to other contested zones about the long-term implications of separation and segregation on urban, architectural and local community levels.

Ongoing versions of this work have been presented at the Barbican, London (2015); Calgary, Canada (2018) and the Royal Academy, London (2019).


Mapping Cluster 02 - Map © Belfast Interface Project / Image © James O’Leary

Mapping Cluster 02 - Map © Belfast Interface Project / Image © James O’Leary

LECTURE

3rd October (Thursday ) 2019:
LECTURE – 50 Years of Belfast Peacewalls

Linen Hall Library Lecture Hall Time: 13.00
17 Donegall Square North, Belfast BT1 5GB
FREE, no booking required
https://linenhall.com/events/50-years-of-belfast-peace-walls-with-professor-james-oleary/


In the final event of the series, James O’Leary (Associate Professor of Architecture at The Bartlett, UCL) will deliver a 40 minute lunchtime lecture at the Linen Hall Library.

Items covered will include:

  • Introduction to Belfast’s Peacewalls

  • What is a Peacewall?

  • How many Peacelines are there?

  • Attitudes to Peacewalls: Local v Regional

  • Possible benefits of Peacewalls

  • Security & Territory

  • Segregration & Division in Belfast

  • Governance & Policy Issues: From the Taylor Report to T:buc

  • Why remove Belfast’s Peacewalls?

  • Top Down v Bottom Up Planning

  • Future Interfaces

 
Image: Belfast Peacewalls, 2015-19, Photos © James O’Leary

Image: Belfast Peacewalls, 2015-19, Photos © James O’Leary

 

These events are organised by James O’Leary (Associate Professor of Architecture at The Bartlett, UCL) with support from: