A new ‘peaceline’ has been erected in Belfast, 40 years after the first such barriers were built to keep the divided communities apart.
A new half-a-mile long eight-foot-high steel fence has been built between the Springfield and Ballygomartin Roads in an attempt to reduce the threat of attack.
Essentially an extension of one of the largest and longest barriers at the Springfield Road, the new section is believed to be the first new peaceline since a barrier was put up in Ardoyne eight years ago following the Holy Cross dispute.
The new barrier has been built following continued stone throwing across the interface.
Despite concerted efforts by community workers, the area has become a hotspot for spontaneous sectarian rioting in recent years, with one young man suffering serious injuries at the interface in April.
While a number of other solutions were pursued a decision to erect a new fence was taken.
The British government denied that the fencing is a new peaceline and described the work as “repair and maintenance”.
However,the decision to construct the fence was taken following a series of meetings between representatives from both communities and British officials.
Alex Attwood of the SDLP said such barriers did not send out a “good message.”
“No-one likes to see these being built,” he said.
“They do not send out a good message. But there are times and places where the protection of people and property requires this sort of message.
“This is not welcome but it is inevitable.
“Those are the hard facts and it is naive to ignore them.”
The new barrier between the Springfield and Ballygomartin Roads means there are now 43 such barriers in Belfast.
British army engineers erected the first sectarian barrier in June 1970 across the Crumlin Road.