Northern Ireland

North Belfast: Work begins on removing interface wall

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Media captionThe wall is the first one owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to be removed

Work has begun to dismantle a wall at a north Belfast interface, 30 years after it was erected.

The barrier on the Crumlin Road encloses part of the Ardoyne area.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the housing authority, said it owns 21 recognised "peace wall" locations and this is the first to be transformed.

Contractors moved in on Wednesday to start removing the 8ft high brick structure.

It will be replaced by railings and decorative panels.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Contractors moved in on Wednesday to start removing the 8ft high brick structure

The Housing Executive said the wall was erected on the Crumlin Road in the mid-1980s at the same time as new social family homes were built.

It was designed to give protection to residents living at the interface during the Troubles.

The Housing Executive said the "community-led decision" to transform the barrier followed "years of relationship building and talks within and between communities in north Belfast".

Its head of communities, Jennifer Hawthorne, said it was an important moment in the Housing Executive's history.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The removal of the barrier will make way for railings and decorative panels

"It's a community led project, which was initiated by the community," she said.

"The Housing Executive's role has been to enable the community to take this positive step and remove this physical and psychological barrier.

"The transformation of this wall will help to regenerate the area for everyone in the community, it will change the physical environment and the lives of those people who live behind it."

The work is expected to be completed in June.

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