Northern Ireland news

Belfast peace wall gate closure 'not due to anti-social behaviour'

A peace wall gate dividing Alexandra Park in north Belfast
Brendan Hughes

A COUNCIL has dismissed a claim made by an official that a 'peace wall' gate dividing a park is remaining closed due to anti-social behaviour concerns.

The gate which divides Alexandra Park in north Belfast has been padlocked shut for weeks during the coronavirus pandemic, despite all other gates being open.

Belfast City Council had previously said that reduced staffing levels during the health crisis had led to the gate remaining shut.

But in council correspondence shared with a resident, it was later claimed that anti-social behaviour was partly a reason for the closure.

It said staff who would usually open and close the gates have been redeployed to other duties during the pandemic.

"The security gates that split Alexandra Park have therefore remained closed to discourage any anti-social behaviour in the evenings and on the weekends. Council will review this decision based on any future updates from official government guidance," it added.

When asked about this, Belfast City Council said that park staff have not received any reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB).

"The gates remain closed as we prioritise staff resources. They are not closed due to concerns around ASB," a council spokesman said.

The interface barrier has divided Alexandra Park since 1994, but improved community relations led to a gate being installed in 2011.

Council workers usually open the large gate each day.

Gates along the perimeter of the park which are usually shut at night have been left open 24/7 amid staffing pressures during the pandemic.

Northern Ireland still has dozens of so-called 'peace walls' as a legacy of the Troubles, erected at interfaces between mainly unionist and mainly nationalist areas to prevent sectarian violence.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news