This website is a forum for political debate and the exchange of ideas. Unless indicated, the opinions expressed in any article, commentary, argument or review is solely that of the author and not necessarily that of the publisher.
North Belfast - The cold war heats up
In issue 24 of Ulster Nation (Autumn 1999 - follow this link), we suggested that, with the IRA’s ‘hot war’ over, or at least on hold, that the next front in the ‘cold war’ would be the interface areas in North Belfast. Republicans looked resentfully at the patchwork of small Protestant areas in the north of the city and decided that they deserved the right to live there more than the present residents. As SDLP councillor Martin Morgan put it, "The Catholic population could easily occupy every square inch of land in North Belfast." Aided by pro-republican apologists in the media, the cry went up that the Housing Executive was favouring Protestants at the expense of Catholics. The story went that the Executive was caving in to pressure from unionist politicians to build houses for loyalists to try to keep them from moving away from areas where nobody wanted to live. An article by Ann Cadwallader in Ireland on Sunday (August 8th 1999) was a classic of the genre.
As any community worker in a Protestant area of North Belfast will tell you, this is an exact inversion of the truth. Nothing has been built in Protestant areas of the city without long years of argument and fighting with the Executive. The people of the Glasgow Street area, for example, have been campaigning for over ten years to get their unfit homes replaced. Nothing was handed to them on a plate! At the same time new homes were built in the long streets in the New Lodge area, Carrick Hill, Cliftonpark Avenue and Ardoyne. In all these cases, the new houses were built to replace substandard or unfit dwellings.
Still, a lie repeated often enough can be mistaken for the truth. Ms Cadwallader is at it again. In Ireland on Sunday, (July 1st 2001) she complains about ‘ingrained (Protestant) sectarianism’ in North Belfast and the battle over land, territory and housing. She says, "For whatever reason, [Nice one Ann! Why would anyone leave houses on the edge of a battlefield?] Protestants are moving out of the old terraced houses and into new bungalows on private developments in east and south Co Antrim and north Co Down." Official neglect did lead to some of the more economically active young people to move away from some of these areas, but the success of the new private developments in areas like Upper Charleville Street and Tennent Street proves that people will stay if decent houses are available.
Ms Cadwallader’s latest article reads like a shopping list – rows and rows of houses are there for the taking. These irrational Prods "deeply fear encroachment into the empty streets by the Catholic masses…" but - do you see the contradiction here – "It probably isn’t possible either to persuade Protestants to stay where they are, no matter how much money the Housing Executive spends tarting up the housing stock.
"This is a shame, but a fact that will have to be faced."
Republicans wax lyrically about the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter, but this is hypocritical bullshit. When it comes down to it, they are willing to participate in the expulsion of Protestants from coveted territory so that Sinn Féin can take the North Belfast seat at the next general election. The implications of Ms Cadwallader’s article are clear. Don’t build any new houses in Protestant areas. Don’t maintain the stock. Don’t carry out repairs. Get the Prods out!
By coincidence, in the weeks after this article appeared, several Protestant areas came under sustained attack by republicans. White City, Tigers Bay, Denmark Street, Twaddell Avenue and Glenbryn have all taken the brunt of sustained attacks. This is much more than the regular ‘recreational rioting’ that takes place each summer between children from rival areas. This was much more organised with gangs of up to a hundred strong leading attacks on some of the areas. Not surprisingly, the residents of end of terrace houses that constantly receive this kind of treatment eventually move out. This I can testify to, as the former tenant of the nightmare house on the corner of Halliday’s Road and Limestone Road. By the way, I have yet to move to a big bungalow on the Co Down coast – I’ll have to make do with a terraced house on the Shankill. Perhaps Ms Cadwallader can let me know where to claim my new bungalow!
David Kerr, August 2001Home Page
A THIRD WAY FOR ULSTER
Copyright © 1990 - 2007 Third Way Publications. All rights reserved.