'Peace curtain' for east Belfast church

Published Friday, 08 November 2013
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A so-called "peace curtain" is set to be installed at St Matthew's Church in east Belfast to help deal with interface trouble.

'Peace curtain' for east Belfast church
Police at the church following a previous incident. (© Presseye)

The wire mesh structure is being put in place by the Department of Justice, and can be deployed and taken down by police when necessary.

It is designed to catch stones or other missiles thrown from both sides.

Justice Minister David Ford said: "It will be brought out if the police advise that it is required at particular times, a few days of the year, and taken away when it is not needed."

Trouble flared earlier this year between communities in the mainly unionist Newtownards Road and the mainly nationalist Short Strand, close to the Catholic church.

Mr Ford said it is "depressing" that a new barrier is needed, but said it shouldn't be described as a 'peace wall' as the only permanent structure will be a set of posts.

"It literally will be like a set of curtains so all the permanent fixtures will be is posts and the screen there a few days in the year," he continued.

"It's not in that sense a divide, it's not permanent and it's not a wall, but it is unfortunate."

Mr Ford said he is not sure about the exact timing of when the structure will go up in the church grounds but said it is not linked to the anniversary of the flag protests.

He added: "I'm not sure exactly the timing it will be put up but it's not particularly aimed at flag protests - on 12 July there was a bit of difficulty in the area with stone throwing."

Local councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile said it is "unfortunate" that the fence is needed.

The Sinn Féin man continued: "The fence is being erected after direct engagement between residents and the Department of Justice (DOJ), which was facilitated by Sinn Féin after residents demanded that action be taken to protect them and their families.

"We will continue to work with local residents, the DOJ and political and community leaders from within the PUL community to ensure we all move to a position where residents are able to live in peace, in secure and appropriate surroundings."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Dublin in Co Dublin wrote (444 days ago):
@deeko in Barcelona Just imagine how the Spanish police would react if some thugs decided to attack Barcelona Cathedral.
Eamo in Belfast wrote (445 days ago):
To Deeko in Barcelona Loyalists use it to urinate and use it as target practice for throwing bricks.
Paul in England wrote (445 days ago):
How very Christian of you all. Dump!!
Neil in Bangor wrote (445 days ago):
Des I highly doubt that 99% of people in Northern Ireland believe in jesus, to say that is highly disrespectful of the many people in this country who are either members of a different religion, or have a bit of sense and know that any religion is just the means to control the masses to one groups set of rules.
Mel in Belfast wrote (445 days ago):
@Jim @ Kevin. As a resident of East Belfast I can comfirm that this is needed, not to protect a building but lives. Protestants have been shot and killed from that Chapel. Lives are far more sacred than a building.
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