The decision by Derry City Council to erect a 170 metre fence at playing fields at Lisnagelvin has been regretted by the Community Relations Council (CRC).
According to CRC Chief Executive, Duncan Morrow,
‘It is always a tragedy when real concerns about personal safety drive local communities to the conclusion that only a physical barrier can provide security. CRC recognises the needs for safety of all people. However we are also concerned that the erection of barriers should be seen as a temporary intervention which indicates deeper underlying issues which need to be tackled if these barriers are not to be permanent divisions.
‘Our experience over the last forty years is that it is easier to put barriers up than to take them down again. The security concerns of the local community about anti-social and sectarian violence are genuine and justified , With this in mind, a solution needs to be explored that goes beyond the short term remedy of putting up a barrier to ensure that it does not become a permanent fixture, effectively separating communities on sectarian lines once more. We would urge all those concerned, the City Council, the PSNI and the local communities to explore long term safety issues to build on partnerships between the local communities and address security and safety concerns for the long run.’
‘CRC co-ordinates an Interface Working Group, set up in 2008.The aim of the group is to provide structured support for initiatives to regenerate interface areas, in the eventual creation of vibrant and sustainable communities in Belfast and beyond. This includes supporting peace-building initiatives, in the development and delivery of short, medium and long-term actions, to address social, community, physical and economic issues in interface areas. Critical to this is interagency work and close connection to the community. We believe that this model might be applied fruitfully in these circumstances.’