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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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The Glenbryn and Ardoyne communities do not have a shared understanding of how the conflict started. Dr Peter Shirlow, Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Ulster, explores some of the issues Peter Shirlow

Moving Apart and Staying Apart: Understanding the two Ardoynes

Is there such a place as Upper Ardoyne? Few people in Ardoyne recognise the unionist community that rests north of the Alliance Avenue interface as that of Upper Ardoyne. They tend to refer to it as Glynbyrn after the name of several streets within that area. The use of the name ‘Upper Ardoyne’ is part of an attempt by members of the unionist community to ensure that the larger and more Republican part of Ardoyne recognises their existence.

Of course the level of segregation that we see today between the two Ardoynes is much worse than it was before contemporary conflicts. Many of the older people who still live in these two areas remember a time when there was a greater degree of mixing and sharing of territory. The onset of violence in the late 1960s and early 1970s was paralleled by the imposition of more evident levels of separation between Catholics and Protestants. The burning of homes and the intimidation of families out of both the Ardoyne and Upper Ardoyne areas, created new boundaries within which animosity between the two communities was able to grow.

The growing separation between the two communities led to a situation within which suspicion and mistrust between the two Ardoynes worsened. As cross-community contacts diminished, so did the knowledge that there had been a time when space had been more shared. The lack of cross-community contact allowed prejudices to flourish as a lack of contact between Catholics and Protestants meant that it was hard to challenge stereotypes that the ‘other’ side were deviant and prejudiced against you and your community.

With the two Ardoynes, a cycle was begun a long time ago within which separation created its own ability to reproduce itself. Harm, hatred and fear have all combined to convince some that there remains a need to remain apart. Few of the majority who simply want to live in peace are prepared to challenge the power of prejudice. One of the problems facing the two Ardoynes is that the majority who are against violence and sectarianism remain silent while the voices of the more belligerent become ever more pronounced. When the majority speaks we will begin to see a new society.


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