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Date of delivery:

Journal and vol/article ref: SPS 1000035

Number of pages (not including this page): 16

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Author queries:

Please reply to these questions on the relevant page of the proof; please do not write on this page.

Q1: Chief Constable’s Annual Report, 2008/09 not in references?

Q2: Police Service of Northern Ireland 2009 not referred to in text?

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Social Policy & Society 10:1, 1–16

CCambridge University Press 2010 doi:10.1017/S1474746410000357

Peace Building in Northern Ireland: A Role for Civil Society

1

C o l i n K n o x 2

School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, University of Ulster, Shore Road, Jordanstown BT 37 OQB 3

E-mail: cg.knox@ulster.ac.uk 4

Northern Ireland has witnessed significant political progress with devolution and a power 5

sharing Executive in place since May 2007. These political achievements, however, 6

conceal a highly polarised society characterised by sectarianism and community divisions, 7

the legacy of a protracted conflict. This paper is located in the theoretical discourse 8

between consociationalists who argue that antithetical identities cannot be integrated and 9

advocates of social transformation who support greater cross-community peace-building 10

initiatives through the involvement of civil society. This theoretical debate is taking place 11

in a policy vacuum. The Northern Ireland Executive has abandoned its commitment to 12

the previous (direct rule) administration’s A Shared Future policy and is now considering 13

alternatives broadly described as community cohesion, sharing and integration. Using 14

a case study of a Protestant/Catholic interface community, this paper offers empirical 15

evidence of the effectiveness of one social transformation initiative involving community 16

groups in a highly segregated area of West Belfast.

17

I n t ro d u c t i o n 18

To the outside observer, the Northern Ireland ‘problem’ has, for all intents and purposes 19

been ‘solved’. Local political parties, in particular long-standing arch antagonists, the 20

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn F´ein, are now key players in a devolved 21

power-sharing Executive and Assembly, which has been functioning since May 2007. The 22

existing arrangements are rooted in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement of 1998 that 23

provided for,inter alia, a devolved Assembly with full executive and legislative authority 24

for all matters that are the responsibility of Northern Ireland Government departments (so- 25

called ‘transferred matters’). Despite substantial public endorsements of the Agreement 26

via referenda in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (although the figures 27

concealed a split in unionist support) devolution faltered largely over decommissioning 28

of paramilitary weapons. From the inception of devolution in December 1999 until 29

October 2002, the Assembly was suspended four times with intermittent flurries of public 30

administration and legislative business conducted. The British Secretary of State dissolved 31

the Assembly in April 2003 leading (eventually) to elections in November of the same 32

year, after which it was restored to a state of suspension when local political parties 33

engaged in a review of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement with the aim of restoring 34

devolution.

35

A political break-through came in the form of the St Andrews Agreement in October 36

2006, which set out a timetable to restore devolution and fixed the date for the third 37

election to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Following the elections, devolved power was 38

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Colin Knox

restored to the Assembly on 8 May 2007 with a power-sharing Executive comprising ten 39

ministers and two junior ministers: five Democratic Unionist, four Sinn F´ein, two Ulster 40

Unionist, and one Social Democratic and Labour Party. The Executive was headed by 41

Ian Paisley as First Minister (now replaced by Peter Robinson) and Martin McGuinness 42

as Deputy First Minister. Although Northern Ireland has witnessed many ‘historic break- 43

throughs’, a public meeting between Ian Paisley (then DUP leader) and Sinn F´ein leader 44

Gerry Adams carried huge symbolic significance as a turning point which copper-fastened 45

the peace process.

46

Public expectations for devolved government were high but delivery on key policy 47

issues has become bogged down in political disagreements between the two main parties 48

(DUP and Sinn F´ein). These have included a public squabble between the parties over 49

the how to address victims of the ‘troubles’, central to which were contested notions 50

of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ victims of violence; the latter being seen by some as 51

‘combatants’ in the conflict, and the former innocent parties somehow caught up in the 52

violence. Political controversy has also raged over the DUP’s refusal to enact legislation 53

to promote the use of the Irish language (pledged by the British Government in the St 54

Andrew’s Agreement), stalemate over Sinn F´ein’s Education Minister (Caitr´ıona Ruane) 55

commitment to end academic selection as a entry route to secondary level education and 56

a political fall-out over future policy on a replacement forA Shared Future. In addition, the 57

Executive failed to meet the May 2008 deadline agreed at St Andrews for the devolution 58

of policing and justice powers, prompting a reaction from Sinn F´ein which resulted in the 59

cancellation of Executive meetings for a five month period in 2008. Since then an uneasy 60

relationship exists between the two main parties in the Executive as they work through the 61

backlog of Executive business and face the problems of the global economic slow-down 62

and its implications for employment and public spending in Northern Ireland.

63

Although devolved government is facing some political difficulties (hardly 64

unexpected), statistics on the security situation illustrate just how much Northern Ireland 65

has moved towards a post-conflict society. In 2008/09 there were five security related 66

deaths compared to 44 in 1998/99, the year of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

67

Security related incidents have also dropped significantly. There were 54 shooting and 68

46 bombing incidents in 2008/09, which compares with 358 and 318 respectively in 69

2001/02 (Chief Constable’s Annual Report, 2008/09). In short, the security situation shows Q1 70

major signs of improvement as the new political dispensation becomes embedded – 71

the Northern Ireland ‘problem’ has been ‘solved’.

72

The difficulty with this progress report on both the political and security situation 73

at the macro level in Northern Ireland is that it ignores the realities of extensive 74

community divisions, religious segregation and the problems of reconstruction after a 75

peace agreement has been signed (Darby, 2006; Boreret al., 2006). In a Government 76

consultation document (2003), aimed at improving community relations in Northern 77

Ireland, the following baseline evidence captures the extent of segregation:

78

• Violence at interfaces between communities continues to affect lives, property, business 79

and public services.

80

• Housing has become more segregated over the last 20 years – more than 70 per cent 81

of (public) Housing Executive estates are more than 90 per cent Protestant or more 82

than 90 per cent Catholic.

83

• Around 95 per cent of children still attend schools segregated by religion.

84

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Peace Building in Northern Ireland

• There is little change in the extent of inter-community friendship patterns.

85

• People’s lives continue to be shaped by community division.

86

In summary, the consultation document concluded ‘Northern Ireland remains a deeply 87

segregated society with little indication of progress towards becoming more tolerant or 88

inclusive’ (Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFM/DFM), 2003: 4).

89

The British Government’s response to this high degree of segregation came (during 90

suspended devolved arrangements) in the form of a policy document entitledA Shared 91

Future aimed at establishing over time ‘a society where there is equity, respect for 92

diversity and recognition of interdependence’ (OFM/DFM, 2005: 10). TheShared Future 93

implementation strategy was unequivocal in terms of improving relations between the 94

communities: ‘Separate but equal is not an option. Parallel living and the provision of 95

parallel services are unsustainable both morally and economically’ (OFM/DFM, 2005:

96

15, 2006, 2007). The British (direct rule) Government prioritised areas which were 97

deemed necessary to build a shared society, such as: tackling the visible manifestations 98

of sectarianism and racism, reclaiming shared space, reducing tensions at interface areas, 99

supporting good relations through cultural diversity and developing shared workspaces.

100

With the restoration of devolved government in 2007, the expectation was that 101

local politicians would embrace theShared Futurepolicy agenda. Instead the Executive’s 102

Programme for Government 2008–2011abandonedA Shared Futurewith the promise 103

that it would ‘bring forward a programme of cohesion and integration for this shared 104

and better future to address the divisions within our society and achieve measurable 105

reductions in sectarianism, racism and hate crime’ (Northern Ireland Executive, 2008:

106

12). Current disagreements between the DUP and Sinn F´ein have delayed progress on a 107

number of policies – this issue is part of the backlog of business.

108

The above stalemate and obvious disagreements on the way forward provide the 109

backdrop to this paper, the aim of which is to examine a case study of community 110

organisations which have sought to operationalise the principles ofA Shared Futureand 111

investigate empirical evidence of the effectiveness of their work. Specifically, the paper 112

will consider an interface area in West Belfast (Suffolk and Lenadoon) as an extreme 113

example of two highly segregated communities living cheek by jowl, blighted by violence, 114

sectarianism and social deprivation since the early 1970s. In a public policy vacuum it 115

will provide an analysis of their efforts to secure a shared future – the role played by civil 116

society in peace building.

117

T h e o re t i c a l c o n t e x t 118

The wider literature on conflict and peace building offers some insights into the 119

segregated society of Northern Ireland. Oberschall (2007), for example, in a comparative 120

study of the peace-building processes in Bosnia, Israel–Palestine and Northern Ireland 121

argues that peace settlements leave many loose ends on key issues in the conflict 122

to be dealt with during the implementation process. He supports the need for social 123

transformation or reconstruction policies that: encourage identities other than ethnicity, 124

provide inducements for inter-ethnic cooperation where there are non-partisan public 125

symbols and shared institutions rather than segregation and avoidance – the converse of 126

the principle ‘good fences make good ethnics and good citizens’. He concludes:

127

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Colin Knox

The reason that sharing is preferable to separation and avoidance is that recent history has 128

repeatedly shown how ‘live and let live’ separatism rapidly descends into ethnic warfare in a 129

crisis as in the Balkans. (Oberschall, 2007: 237) 130

When ethnic groups have different preferences, he argues, public policy should not 131

support or subsidise these practices and institutions that make for separation, although 132

at the same time it should not ban them as long as they are voluntary and benign.

133

Taylor (2001, 2006, 2008) also advocates social transformation. In a critique of the 134

consociational arrangements synonymous with the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (Mc- 135

Garry and O’Leary, 2006) he suggests that political accommodation will regulate rather 136

than transform the conflict. He argues for micro level support to promote non-sectarian 137

initiatives within civil society that advance democracy and justice, such as integrated 138

education and housing, and criticises consociational arrangements that ‘work with and 139

solidify intracommunal networks, rather than being concerned to promote intercommunal 140

association’ (Taylor 2001: 47). Cochrane (2001, 2006) characterises social transformation 141

in Northern Ireland as a behavioural model within which the creation of better community 142

relations and cross-community reconciliation, through various means of contact, is the 143

key to conflict resolution in Northern Ireland. He describes the model as follows:

144

The behavioural analysis argues that the conflict is, at its most fundamental, a product of 145

dysfunctional human relationships, a consequence of a negative stereotyping of the ‘other’

146

community and a lack of contact and communication with the ‘other’ community to break 147

down the myths and distrust that provide the fuel for the conflict. (Cochrane, 2001: 147–8) 148

Those who support the behavioural approach are more likely to emphasise the contact 149

hypothesis, communication and cross-community dialogue and the need to tackle 150

sectarianism at both the individual and group levels (Knox and Quirk, 2000; Lederach, 151

1997, 2005). At its most simple, the contact hypothesis argues that contact (under the right 152

conditions) between members of different racial or ethnic groups leads to a reduction in 153

prejudice between the groups and an increase in tolerance and mutual understanding 154

(Allport, 1954; Pettigrew, 1971; Hewstone and Brown, 1986; Hugheset al., 2007). The 155

alternative model is a structural perspective which holds that Northern Ireland comprises 156

two rival ideologies that are separate and represent ‘antithetical identities which cannot 157

be integrated but must be recognised and accommodated through political mechanisms 158

such as consociationalism’ (Cochrane, 2001: 151).

159

Connolly (2000) provides a useful summary of the competing theories. The contact 160

hypothesis attributes the nature and causes of ethnic division to individual ignorance and 161

misunderstanding. Sustained contact challenges pre-existing prejudices and stereotypes 162

and, over time, will translate into positive attitudes towards the ‘other’ ethnic group. This 163

ignores however the broader social processes, institutions and structures that help to create 164

and sustain ethnic tensions. Contact work is endorsed by government because it reduces 165

its role to one of encouraging cross-community contact rather than rebuilding structural 166

relations. Connolly (2000: 171) argues for a twin track approach: there is ‘certainly a 167

need to maintain a clear focus on the central role played by the broader social structures 168

and institutions, but it is also important that the more micro and interpersonal processes 169

and practice which help to sustain and reproduce racial and ethnic divisions are not 170

overlooked’.

171

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Peace Building in Northern Ireland

McGarry (2001) rejects these social transformation approaches on the grounds that 172

their advocates see divisions in Northern Ireland as superficial and are unduly optimistic 173

about the prospects for social integration (integrated schools and housing estates) in the 174

short-term. He argues that social integration cannot take place any time soon and outside 175

the context of a political settlement, finding no evidence that the two communities want to 176

mix socially. McGarry cites the low percentage of children attending integrated schools 177

(around 6 per cent in 2007/08) as evidence of the slow pace of social transformation 178

despite being promoted since the mid 1970s and a statutory duty, from 1989, on the 179

Department of Education to ‘encourage and facilitate’ its development. In a more recent 180

quantitative study (sample size 11,500 people) of integrated education however, Hayes 181

et al. (2007: 476) found that despite the small number of children involved ‘attendance 182

at an integrated school has long-term benefits in weakening sectarian political outlooks 183

and promoting a centre and common ground in Northern Ireland politics, and this is 184

particularly the case within the Protestant community’. Ten years on from the Belfast 185

(Good Friday) Agreement however, ‘common ground’ appears elusive and segregation is 186

entrenched.

187

A particular manifestation of segregation and sectarianism occurs at interface areas 188

delineated in some cases by physical barriers (so-called ‘peace’ walls) in Northern Ireland 189

(Murtagh, 2002; Morrow, 2008). In a study of segregation in Belfast, Shirlow and Murtagh 190

(2006: 58), note that interfaces ‘both divorce and regulate intercommunity relationships, 191

and in so doing they compress space into sites that become notable places of violence 192

and resistance’. They argue that interface areas vary in form and style – some are denoted 193

by physical barriers, by flags, emblems and wall murals but all will most certainly be 194

known and understood by those who live within segregated communities. Such is the 195

pervasiveness of these barriers that it is difficult to estimate the numbers which exist.

196

Jarman (2006, 2008) claims that the term interface barrier or ‘peaceline’ is generally used 197

to refer to those barriers that have been authorised by the Northern Ireland Office in 198

response to concerns for safety and security but many other structures have been built in 199

the course of regeneration projects to separate communities. In Belfast alone he estimates 200

that there are over 80 barriers, half of which are Northern Ireland Office ‘sanctioned’

201

barriers. Jarman’s work is particularly important in the context of the case study in this 202

paper which adopted the strap line ‘A Shared Future Project in Action’, accepting the 203

principle that ‘separate but equal’ communities or ‘parallel living’ was no longer an 204

option.

205

This article adopts a conceptual position which challenges structural and behavioural 206

approaches as polar opposites when seeking to tackle systemic segregation in Northern 207

Ireland. Although McGarry and O’Leary are broadly dismissive of the ‘mix and fix’

208

mentality of social integration, they support it ‘where it is feasible and wanted’ but also 209

recognise durable divisions and the need to ensure that both groups are treated in an equal 210

manner (Bruce, 1994; McGarry and O’Leary, 1995: 856). This is consistent up to a point 211

with Taylor’s social transformation approach which involves promoting reconciliation 212

and desegregation through cross-community networks running alongside a social justice 213

agenda to tackle inequalities and injustices between the communities (Taylor, 2009). In 214

short, this article attempts to demonstrate that even in extreme circumstances, interface 215

communities, social transformation can work effectively because of the willingness of 216

groups to see a shared rather than separate future.

217

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Colin Knox

T h e c a s e s t u d y 218

The Lenadoon Estate is a public sector housing scheme with over 9,000 residents 219

situated on the outskirts of West Belfast, on the boundary between Belfast and Lisburn 220

City Councils. The estate was built during the mid 1960s just before the outbreak of 221

‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Housing tenure was originally mixed religion, but, 222

as civil unrest spread, the nature and development of the estate suffered significantly 223

from population shift. A largely Protestant population living in the lower part of the 224

estate (Lenadoon Avenue and Horn Drive) moved out during the early 1970s and their 225

homes were filled with Catholics fleeing sectarian strife from other parts of Belfast. These 226

population shifts created a fragmented community with a common adversary – sectarian 227

violence. A Lenadoon community worker described the evolving situation thus:

228

As a result of the conflict many local people were killed and scores more injured in incidents 229

in the area. Hundreds of local people were imprisoned and this placed a heavy burden on the 230

community. . .Despite this adversity, people showed a strong attachment to the area and a 231

determination to work collectively to improve the estate and challenge the neglect of successive 232

governments and statutory bodies. (Lenadoon Community Forum, 2003: 5) 233

As Lenadoon became the refuge of Catholics from other parts of Belfast, Protestant 234

families living on the estate were forced to either move out because of sectarianism 235

and intimidation or shift to the Suffolk estate (at the lower end of Lenadoon and the 236

south side of the Stewartstown Road), which became an enclave for Protestants living 237

in West Belfast. As Catholic families grew on the Lenadoon estate, Suffolk became the 238

repository for Protestants who had chosen to remain – in effect a small commune of public 239

houses with around 1,000 people surrounded on all sides by their Catholics neighbours.

240

This managed ‘security solution’ in the early 1970s created an interface area between 241

Lenadoon and Suffolk estates (the boundary of which is Stewartstown Road) which endures 242

to the present day – euphemistically known as ‘the peace line’.

243

One Lenadoon resident at the time described it thus:

244

By 1976–7, most Protestant residents in Lenadoon had moved across the Stewartstown Road 245

into Suffolk, while their houses had been resettled by Catholic families burnt or intimidated out 246

of other parts of Belfast. And that’s when the Road became the permanent interface, the peace 247

line. And for most Catholics this road had become somewhere you didn’t cross, if you could 248

avoid. (Hall, 2007: 12) 249

Both Suffolk and Lenadoon estates suffer from significant economic disadvantage. They 250

are part of the Outer West Belfast Neighbourhood Renewal area, defined as the top 251

10 per cent of deprived neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland.1The key statistics for Outer 252

West Belfast compared with Northern Ireland in general are shown in Table 1.

253

Community development groups evolved in both areas to tackle social disadvantage 254

and became affiliated to their respective umbrella groups. Lenadoon Community Forum 255

was established in 1992 to co-ordinate the community development needs of some 20 256

member groups on the estate. Suffolk Community Forum was set up in 1994 ‘to work 257

towards creating a stable, secure and confident community in Suffolk’ (Insight Consulting, 258

2006: 3). Both forums subsequently moved to co-operate. The spirit of the early joint 259

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Peace Building in Northern Ireland

Table 1 Outer West Belfast – key statistics2

Percentage comparisons

Outer West Belfast Neighbourhood

Renewal area (%) Northern Ireland (%)

Under 16 years of age 29.8 23.6

16–59 years of age 59.1 58.8

Over 60 years of age 11.1 17.6

Lone parent households with dependent children

19.8 8.1

General health – not good 15.1 10.7

Degree level or higher qualifications 8.9 15.8

Economically inactive 45.4 37.7

Unemployed 9.2 4.1

Rented households 47.3 30.4

meetings in 1995/96 was to discuss ‘things we think we have in common, the difficulties 260

between us and how we can be better neighbours’ (O’Halloran and McIntyre, 1999: 5).

261

From these early informal meetings, as trust developed, a formally constituted Suffolk 262

and Lenadoon Interface Group (SLIG) was established in 1999. An important aspect of 263

building trust was recognition by SLIG that both communities faced common problems.

264

The British Government reduced and eventually closed community employment schemes 265

(ACE projects) on both sides of the interface; poverty presented itself as a real issue for 266

the two estates; and protocols were established to deal with issues (parades, interface 267

violence) during periods of heightened tensions.

268

The journey towards greater co-operation between Suffolk and Lenadoon 269

encountered a number of setbacks. Wider political problems (the Drumcree parades, the 270

deaths of the Quinn children in Ballymoney) played out in the form of community interface 271

violence within Suffolk and Lenadoon. There were ongoing problems over disputed land 272

and territory. Catholics in Lenadoon point to an increasing need for social housing and 273

vacant publicly owned land available in Suffolk. Residents in Suffolk however perceive 274

this as ‘their land’ which should only be used to enhance housing or community facilities 275

for Protestants. Community activists involved in SLIG also risked a backlash from within 276

their own communities for moving at a pace on shared working inconsistent with the 277

wishes of the majority of people living in both areas. In an attempt to summarise the 278

evolution of SLIG, researchers involved in interface work in Belfast noted two key points.

279

First, although violence subsided in areas such as West Belfast (and Northern Ireland 280

more generally), this was not tantamount to ‘peace’, rather it emphasised the significant 281

amount of work to be done within communities coming out of years of conflict. Second, 282

joint development that results in real and meaningful inter-community work can be a 283

‘very slow and frustrating process’ (O’Halloran and McIntyre, 1999: 27).

284

The International Fund for Ireland funded an initial project in 2001 under the auspices 285

of SLIG for youth and community work in both areas for a three-year period. The project, 286

specifically aimed at conflict management, was conceived as a diversionary programme 287

on a single identity/community basis which sought to draw young people away from 288

the interface and direct their energies into activities. The work was crucially important 289

in terms of reducing interface tension and violence. The International Fund for Ireland 290

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Colin Knox

reinvested for an additional three-year period which enabled SLIG to employ staff and 291

implement cross-community activities. At the same time, a regeneration project on the 292

peace line (Stewartstown Road) was initiated by the Suffolk Community Group which 293

identified a semi-derelict building owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as 294

the basis for a joint project. SLIG jointly applied for funding to create a shared space on 295

the site and developed a mixed use building of 1,000m2with retail, office and community 296

space. Such was the success of this venue that a second phase has just been completed, 297

including a modern childcare facility attracting parents and toddlers from Suffolk and 298

Lenadoon estates. The residents attribute little of this to support from government in 299

Northern Ireland. As one Lenadoon resident put it:

300

The civil service gave us no amount of hassle, putting us through endless hoops and obstacles.

301

They openly called our initiative a ‘white elephant’, questioned what was in it for Lenadoon, 302

or Suffolk, and passed the opinion that it wouldn’t be used, it would just stand idle. . . I 303

remember after we had applied for further funding to develop the project into its second phase, 304

a representative from the Belfast Regeneration Office said at a meeting: ‘you’ve cured the 305

interface, so why would you need more funding?’ As if it was some sort of disease to be ‘cured’!

306

(cited in Hall, 2007: 28) 307

In January 2007, as a direct result of ongoing collaborative work, SLIG attracted a major 308

investment of £2m over three years from Atlantic Philanthropies3for the implementation 309

of a (joint) SLIG peace-building plan to support community-based reconciliation through 310

the promotion of shared services, facilities and public spaces. Specifically the joint plan 311

comprises four key strands:

312

(a) Peace-building activities: these include shared pre-school provision, transformation 313

of the controlled (Protestant) Suffolk Primary School into an integrated school, a 314

health and women’s development project, cultural initiative, youth activities and sports 315

development schemes.

316

(b) Joint advocacy: lobbying government agencies on a joint community basis to address 317

the social and economic needs of Suffolk and Lenadoon and the legacy of the conflict.

318

(c) Building capacity for peace building: through community leadership and widening 319

and deepening the basis of community self-help beyond the established activists which 320

constitute the respective community forums.

321

(d) Developing shared space: by targeting derelict land and premises which could be 322

reclaimed or refurbished as joint community facilities owned and managed by local 323

people from the two communities.

324

An important element of the project was to undertake a probability survey of residents in 325

the Suffolk and Lenadoon areas after a two-year period to assess the effectiveness of this 326

grassroots initiative. SLIG commissioned a reputable market survey company (Millward 327

Brown) to conduct the fieldwork and the data set was made available to the author 328

for further analysis beyond reported descriptive statistics. A random location sampling 329

technique was used to ensure that every resident in the specified areas of Suffolk and 330

Lenadoon (those streets closest to the interface) was given an equal chance to participate.

331

In addition, the sample was quota controlled by age to reflect the population of the 332

area. In total 400 questionnaires were completed in November 2008 using a face-to-face 333

methodology (Millward Brown, 2008). Weightings were applied to the sample to ensure 334

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Peace Building in Northern Ireland

Figure 1. Have you supported peace-building work?

that it would reflect the proportion of households in the Suffolk and Lenadoon areas. This 335

produced a sample size of 116 from the Suffolk area and 284 from the Lenadoon area.

336

T h e fi n d i n g s 337

Has this community-based bottom–up initiative proved successful and does it offer the 338

potential for a wider civil society model in Northern Ireland peace building? We consider 339

two key questions arising from the empirical work as a means of understanding support 340

for, and early reactions to, peace-building work in two polarised and highly segmented 341

communities suffering from a protracted period of political conflict. Residents were asked:

342

1. Have you supported peace-building work between the Suffolk and Lenadoon 343

communities?

344

2. Do you think that the peace-building work between Suffolk and Lenadoon has been 345

effective?

346

The obviously corollary to these questions iswhyresidents in the two communities thought 347

peace-building work had been effective or ineffective. This question was not asked in the 348

survey on the basis that it demanded more detailed qualitative responses (perhaps using 349

focus groups) or at the very least an open-ended question which, from experience, tends 350

to result in a superficial or non response. Indirectly, by examining those factors which 351

influence or predict respondents’ support for, and perceptions of, effective peace building, 352

we attempt to interrogate their opinions further.

353

Considering the first question, the results indicate that there is a greater level of support 354

for peace building from Catholic/Lenadoon residents than their Protestant counterparts 355

in Suffolk, although overall support for cross-community work comes from almost 356

90 per cent of respondents in the survey (see Figure 1). The chi-square tests suggest 357

that there is a significant difference (p<0.05) between Suffolk and Lenadoon in their 358

support for peace-building work (see Table 2). That said, it is important to acknowledge 359

the overwhelming support in both communities for peace building at 95.2 per cent and 360

82.6 per cent in Lenadoon and Suffolk, respectively. This clearly demonstrates the appetite 361

for cross-community work in an area previously synonymous with violent conflict.

362

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Colin Knox

Table 2 Chi-square tests

Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) Pearson chi-square 20.160 2 0.000

Likelihood ratio 20.961 2 0.000 Linear-by-linear Association 10.659 1 0.001 Nof valid cases 400

Figure 2.Has peace-building work been effective?

Table 3 Chi-square tests

Value df Asymp. sig. (2-sided) Pearson chi-square 21.557 2 0.000

Likelihood ratio 22.222 2 0.000 Linear-by-linear Association 20.744 1 0.000 Nof valid cases 400

In response to the second question, the results show that despite Lenadoon (Catholic) 363

residents overwhelmingly supporting peace-building work, less than half of them 364

(44.5 per cent) considered it to be effective (see Figure 2). Although a lower percentage 365

of Suffolk residents supported peace building, almost two-thirds (64.5 per cent) felt that 366

it was effective. Overall, just over half the respondents (53.1 per cent) considered cross- 367

community peace-building work to be effective with almost one-third (32.7 per cent) 368

undecided. The chi-square tests suggest a significant difference (p<0.05) between the 369

views of Lenadoon and Suffolk residents on whether they feel peace building has been 370

effective (see Table 3).

371

To further understand which factors influence/predict the different views of Lenadoon 372

and Suffolk residents towards peace building we conducted logistic regressions. We were 373

interested in finding out which variables predict the likelihood of (a) residents supporting 374

peace building and (b) whether they see peace-building efforts as effective, respectively?

375

In terms of the former the categorical dependent variable and predictor variables are as 376

follows:

377

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Peace Building in Northern Ireland

Have you supported peace-building work between Suffolk and Lenadoon 378

communities?

379

Categorical dependent variable:

380

Support: Have you supported peace-building work between Suffolk and Lenadoon?

381

(yes/no) 382

Predictor variables:

383

Gender: Gender of respondent (male/female) 384

Age: Age of respondent (in years) 385

Reside: Are you a Suffolk or Lenadoon resident? (Suffolk/Lenadoon) 386

Friends: Do you have any friends from the ‘other community’? (yes/no) 387

Vabuse: Have you ever been verbally abused by a member from the ‘other 388

community’ close to the interface area? (yes/no) 389

Pabuse: Have you ever been physically abused by a member from the ‘other 390

community’ close to the interface area? (yes/no) 391

The results are set out in Table 4.

392

Table 4 Have you supported peace-building work between Suffolk and Lenadoon?

Variables in the equation

Variables B S.E. Wald df Sig.

Age –0.981 0.475 4.272 1 0.039

Vabuse –2.021 0.582 12.072 1 0.001

Friends 0.935 0.654 2.044 1 0.153

Pabuse 0.449 0.624 0.518 1 0.472

Gender 19.022 8707.265 0.000 1 0.998

Reside 0.000 0.013 0.001 1 0.982

Constant 4.161 0.801 27.010 1 0.000

Omnibus tests of model coefficients

Chi-square df Sig.

Step 1 Step 38.109 6 0.000

Block 38.109 6 0.000

Model 38.109 6 0.000

Hosmer and Lemeshow test

Step Chi-square df Sig.

1 0.663 6 0.995

Model summary Step −2 Log

likelihood

Cox and Snell R Square

Nagelkerke R Square

1 38.573(a) 0.101 0.524

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Colin Knox

The omnibus tests of model coefficients show a highly significant value (p<0.0005) 393

and the Hosmer and Lemeshow test supports the conclusion that the model is a good 394

fit (chi square value of 0.663 and p>0.05). The model summary statistics indicate that 395

between 10.1 per cent and 52.4 per cent of the variability in the dependent variable is 396

explained by this set of predictor variables. The Wald test shows that the two variables 397

that contribute significantly to the predictive ability of the model (significance<0.05) 398

are the age of the respondent (p=0.039) and whether they have suffered verbal abuse by 399

a member of the other community at the interface area (p=0.001). The results suggest 400

that younger people (16–25 age group) and those who have suffered verbal abuse at the 401

interface areless likelyto support cross-community peace-building work.

402

Turning to the second question:

403

Do you think that this peace-building work between Suffolk and Lenadoon has been 404

effective?

405

Categorical dependent variable:

406

Effective: Do you think that the peace-building work between Suffolk and Lenadoon 407

has been effective? (yes/no) 408

Predictor variables:

409

Gender: Gender of respondent (male/female) 410

Age: Age of respondent (in years) 411

Reside: Are you a Suffolk or Lenadoon resident? (Suffolk/Lenadoon) 412

Friends: Do you have any friends from the ‘other community’? (yes/no) 413

Vabuse: Have you ever been verbally abused by a member from the ‘other 414

community’ close to the interface area? (yes/no) 415

Pabuse: Have you ever been physically abused by a member from the ‘other 416

community’ close to the interface area? (yes/no) 417

The results are set out in Table 5.

418

The omnibus tests of model coefficients show a highly significant value (p<0.0005) 419

and the Hosmer and Lemeshow test supports the conclusion that the model is a good 420

fit (chi square value of 3.420 and p>0.05). The model summary statistics indicate that 421

between 12.8 per cent and 21 per cent of the variability in the dependent variable is 422

explained by this set of predictor variables. The Wald test shows that the three variables 423

which contribute significantly to the predictive ability of the model (significance<0.05) 424

are: the age of the respondent (p=0.002); whether they have suffered verbal abuse by a 425

member of the other community at the interface area (p=0.003); and whether they come 426

from Suffolk or Lenadoon (p=0.004). The results suggest that younger people (16–25 age 427

group) and those who have suffered verbal abuse at the interface areless likelyto think 428

that peace-building work has been effective, and residents from Suffolk aremore likelyto 429

see its effectiveness.

430

These survey results are clearly located in the behavioural cross-community contact 431

literature, testing interaction across the community divide, and devoid of a structural 432

overlay in the form of public policies to address segregation. Having adopted the mantra 433

of ‘A Shared Future Project in Action’, Suffolk and Lenadoon communities felt abandoned 434

by local politicians who eschewed this policy framework. There is a real sense that 435

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Peace Building in Northern Ireland

Table 5 Do you think that the peace-building work between Suffolk and Lenadoon has been effective?

Variables in the equation

Variables B S.E. Wald df Sig.

Age 0.039 0.013 9.611 1 0.002

Vabuse –1.234 0.416 8.808 1 0.003

Friends 0.402 0.411 0.955 1 0.328

Pabuse –0.060 0.668 0.008 1 0.928

Gender –0.405 0.371 1.192 1 0.275

Reside 1.159 0.403 8.289 1 0.004

Constant –0.087 0.566 0.023 1 0.878

Omnibus tests of model coefficients

Chi-square df Sig.

Step 1 Step 34.369 6 0.000

Block 34.369 6 0.000

Model 34.369 6 0.000

Hosmer and Lemeshow test

Step Chi-square df Sig.

1 3.420 8 0.905

Model summary Step –2 Log likelihood Cox and Snell

R square

Nagelkerke R Square

1 201.724 0.128 0.210

macro political ‘solutions’ have yet to deliver social, economic and reconciliation gains 436

at grassroots level and Suffolk and Lenadoon see their destiny in their own hands. In this 437

policy vacuum, communities appear to be ahead of their politicians and some are taking 438

control of, and shaping, their own shared future.

439

C o n c l u s i o n s 440

This empirical case study has attempted to understand the dynamics of cross-community 441

interaction and contact at the most acute level of segregation in Northern Ireland – an 442

interface area in West Belfast. In so doing, it has responded to the challenge posed 443

by Shirlow and Murtagh (2006: 172) that ‘there is a general failing within academic 444

analysis with regard to misunderstanding the role and designation of peace builders.

445

It is usually assumed that the educated and “rational” will play a significant role in 446

conflict alteration.’ Our findings offer an insight into the response of community groups 447

and interface residents (as opposed to outside agencies) to a joint peace-building plan 448

funded by a philanthropic benefactor. The case study provides a micro analysis of the 449

social transformation process between two polar communities, embittered by the legacy 450

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Colin Knox

of sectarianism, and interrogates the effectiveness of activities aimed at peace building.

451

What is significant in the findings is that although the majority community in the case 452

study (Catholic Lenadoon) is more supportive of the peace-building work, it is the minority 453

community (Protestant Suffolk) which sees the activities as more effective. Key variables 454

which predict these responses are young people who suffer verbal abuse at interface 455

areas. Those in the age group 16–25 who have suffered verbal abuse at the interface are 456

less likely to support peace-building work and see its effectiveness. This poses specific 457

challenges for future work within highly segregated communities.

458

In conclusion, the empirical results of this case study of Suffolk and Lenadoon, 459

an extreme example of segregation, would support the need for social transformation 460

initiatives involving civil society, set alongside progress at the macro political level. This 461

micro analysis provides evidence of the success of social transformation in a public policy 462

vacuum, but also highlights the need for local politicians to embrace a broader social 463

justice agenda to reinforce the expressed wishes of communities to share rather than 464

consolidate separation. Consociationalism and social transformation are not mutually 465

exclusive but rather jointly supportive. There are some encouraging signs of connection.

466

DUP Minister of Finance and party stalwart, Sammy Wilson, recently visited a cross- 467

community interface project in North Belfast (Alexandra Park) and commented that 468

‘people are challenging some of the root causes of sectarianism and in doing so improving 469

the quality of life for themselves and future generations’ (Wilson, 2009: 2). This comment 470

is from a minister in the devolved power-sharing Executive who recognises the work of 471

cross-community groups at local level.

472

A key variable in the success of inter-community work is the involvement of young 473

people and the quality of contact between them. This study also challenges the assumption 474

that Protestant interface residents are ‘lukewarm’ on the effectiveness of peace-building 475

work. The Northern Ireland Executive is currently considering a replacement policy forA 476

Shared Futurein which it aims to increase investment over the next three years to promote 477

cohesion, sharing and integration from £21.7m currently to £28.7m (Office of the First 478

Minister and Deputy First Minister, 2008). Thus far, there has been a reluctance by the 479

two main power-sharing parties (DUP and Sinn F´ein) to prioritise social transformation, 480

presumably because it could weaken the sectarian bases from which they draw their 481

own political support – indeed the two largest parties have issued separate draft versions 482

of the proposed policy onCohesion, Sharing and Integration. More recently there was 483

a partisan response to reviving the Civic Forum (representing business, trade union and 484

voluntary sectors) which was originally set up under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 485

as a consultative mechanism on social, economic and cultural issues but was mothballed 486

during the suspension of devolution. With adequate resources and jointly agreed peace- 487

building goals, the Suffolk and Lenadoon communities have shown that they are capable 488

of managing their own preferred destiny towards a more cohesive, integrated and shared 489

society. Civil society in Northern Ireland can play a key role in bottom–up peace building 490

by tackling the worst excesses of a deeply segregated society in a post-conflict era.

491

A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s 492

The author wishes to acknowledge the valuable inputs provided by members of the Suffolk 493

and Lenadoon Interface Group to this paper. All views expressed, errors and omissions 494

remain the responsibility of the author.

495

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N o t e s 496

1 There are 36 areas targeted for neighbourhood renewal across Northern Ireland (15 in Belfast; 6 497

in (London)derry; and 15 in other provincial towns and cities).

498

2 Source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency – http://www.ninis.nisra.gov.uk 499

3 Atlantic Philanthropies is a philanthropic organization funded by American Charles Feeney which 500

aims to bring about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. They work on 501

four main issues – ageing, children and youth, population health, and reconciliation and human rights 502

within seven countries: Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the 503

United States and Viet Nam.

504

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583

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