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More on North Belfast's cold war

According to Sinn Féin, the vicious sectarian hatred that scars North Belfast is all the fault of the UDA who are orchestrating all the trouble over the past year and a bit. It is certainly true that the UFF have been active in street disturbances and attacks on Catholic homes. The police have also implicated them in several killings locally.. What makes North Belfast so volatile?

As we have noted in previous issues, the pan-Irish national-chauvinist consensus is that this part of the city is regarded as territory ripe for the picking. SDLP councillor Martin Morgan says that Catholics could easily occupy every square inch of North Belfast. Republicans have argued that building new houses, or improving the current stock in Protestant areas there is a waste of money as all the Prods are leaving voluntarily to live in the more congenial climate of Carrickfergus and Bangor. In other words, do nothing for them to encourage them all to go.

Happily, however, the Housing Executive is still building new houses in all areas of North Belfast. New homes are going up in the Catholic part of North Queen Street and in the Protestant Tudor area. For covetous republicans, who told Nigel Dodds that Sinn Féin would take his seat at the next general election, this will not do. Hence the siege and harassment of the smaller, more vulnerable Protestant areas, especially Glenbryn, Torrens and White City. These Prods must be ‘persuaded’ to leave their areas! North Belfast, rather than Portadown, is now the place where Protestant backs are really up against the wall. It is in this context that the UFF has gathered support for its desperate, murderous, and ultimately futile nihilistic rearguard action to keep Catholics from taking over traditional Protestant districts. This campaign seems unlikely to reverse the greening trend. Who is going to move back into a blighted war zone? Not many!

North Belfast needs stability. Communities must allow one another space to get on with their lives in peace, even if in the short to medium term this means more ‘peace walls’. To restore order, there must be mutual acknowledgement of the hurts and wrongs that a section of each community have inflicted on the other. Republicans must lift their siege and the UFF must call off their fighting retreat and allow community dialogue forums to get up and running soon. 

(February 2002)


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