How many peace walls are there?

Peace walls developed in Northern Ireland shortly after sectarian tensions broke out into violence in 1969 but, since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, I think that most people outside Northern ireland have assumed that the violence has ended and the peace walls have come down. In fact, dissident Republicans continue to mount violent actions and, as this Wikipedia page spells out, there are still some 40 peace walls separating Catholic/Republican communities from Protestant/Unionist ones.

In another assessment, there are apparently a total of 88 peace walls and barriers and you can view photographs of 15 of the walls here. Surprisingly around a third have been erected since the formal end of terrorist activities. However, a £2m fund aimed at bringing down the peace walls by building confidence between communities has just been announced by the International Fund for Ireland, as explained here.

Of course, Northern Ireland is not unique in approaching issues of inter-ethnic conflict by erecting a wall or barrier. On my trip to Israel, I kept obtaining glimpses of “the wall” between israel and the West Bank. Israelis call this “the separation fence” or “the security fence”, while most Palestinians call it “the racial segregation wall”.

I’m sure that around the world there are all sorts of physical barriers of this kind. The English poet Robert Frost once wrote a poem called “Mending Wall” which I studied at school. In that he famously wrote that “Good fences make good neighbours” . Is that true?


  • David Eden

    Wasn’t the Great Wall of China meant to keep the Mongols out?

  • Roger Darlington

    And the Maginot Line was meant to keep the Germans out of France in 1914.

  • Eric Lee

    Israel’s separation fence has stopped suicide bombers and saved lives. Comparing it to the Maginot Line may be a bit unfair.

  • Dan Filson

    Partition, on the whole, has not done well as a strategy. Pakistan, Israel. Ireland to name but three examples. Devolution however makes more sense, especially if combined with measures that reduce the tensions between communities. Subsidiarity – a word we have not heard for some years – is a good concept:- devolving as far down as is compatible with wider interests.


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