Published on 9 Jan 2013

Welcome to Cluan Place – a street failed by the peace process

A joke? Or health and safety with no sense of irony attached? I don’t know, but for some time we standing looking at the building site safety sign in blue, telling us that hard hats must be worn.

It’s on a wall. Well a wall and then a high fence atop the wall adding up to 30 feet or so of barrier defending loyalist/unionist Cluan Place from nationalist/republican Short Strand.

Or…defending the Short Strand from Cluan Place. Perspective is everything.

“Peacelines” they call them – as in: imposing peace by massive barriers between communities still unable to rub along together in all the years since the Good Friday Peace agreement.

“So if I say peace process to you – what would you say?” I ask Danielle Brown, a young mum with two children living in Cluan Place.

“I’d laugh,’ she says, “I’m trying to get out, move away. Last weekend was terrible. One of my wee ones with a birthday recently – couldn’t even celebrate it here at home. Every time the kids go out in the street to play, stuff comes flying over the walls.”

Another resident declines to be identified but talks to us – back to camera – clutching three golf balls lobbed over the fence at her house, she tells me, the previous night.

“We get no support here from our politicians. One DUP man does come but that’s about it. I want politicians to look at what they’ve done.”

“You mean the peace process” I asked.

“The peace process has failed us. It’s not helping anyone here. Politicians sold us down the river – the whole lot of them. We’re living in a cage here, a prison.”

Community worker Jim Wilson walks around Cluan Place with me, its neat houses with plastic protective windows instead of glass; union flags hanging from most front walls – and the monstrous “peaceline” looming up over it all:

“Loyalist and nationalist workers on both sides have worked hard to try and resolve things,” he says.


“It’s not worked Jim has it – I mean, just look around us?”

“No, it’s difficult. It’s very hard to turn back youths from chucking stuff over the walls because they think they’re defending loyalism, nationalism, whatever. There’s peace of a kind but these young people have still known nothing but hatred.”

He talks of 23 families forced out of Cluan Place by attacks since the peace process began.

Underlining the deep sense of alienation in this largely joblessĀ  world, the recent announcement of the dire state of the voting register in this politician-infested place.

Perhaps one in five improperly registered and around 400,000 missing altogether. These are colossal figures across the Northern Ireland.

Locals here all know voting rates in areas like this are not as high as those over the fence in the Short Strand where they will tell you the same stories of siege and attack from the Loyalist estates surrounding.

Few in Cluan Place have much enthusiasm for voting. All agree the paramilitaries will step into the vacuum. Are stepping in.

Here at the edge of the union, symbols matter. A woman carrying her union-flag tea-mug proudly shows off her union-flag. But it’s no flag – it’s her bathroom: union-flag loo: seat, lid, the works.


Outside some accept there’s no way they will change the democratic view of the council on the flag flying issue.

In Cluan Place this merely underlines the sense of loss, futility and impotence.

 

A joke? Or health and safety with no sense of irony attached?

 

I don’t know, but for sometime we standing looking at the small building site safety sign in blue, telling us that hard hats must be worn.

 

It’s on a wall. Well a wall and then a high fence atop the wall adding up to 30 feet or so of barrier defending Loyalist/Unionist Cluan Place from Nationalist/Republican Short Strand.

 

Or…defending the Short Strand from Cluan Place. Perspective is everything.

 

‘Peacelines’ they call them – as in imposing peace by massive barriers between communities still unable to rub along together in all the years since the Good Friday Peace agreement.

 

“So if I say peace process to you – what would you say?” I ask Danielle Brown, a young mum with two children living in Cluan Place.

 

“I’d laugh,’ she says, “I’m trying to get out, move away. Last weekend was terrible. One of my wee ones with a birthday recently – couldn’t even celebrate it here at home. Every time the kids go out in the street to play, stuff comes flying over the walls.”

 

Another resident declines to be identified but talks to us – back to camera – clutching 3 golf balls lobbed over the fence at her house, she tells me, the previous night.

 

“We get no support here from our politicians. One DUP man does come but that’s about it. I want politicians to look at what they’ve done.”

 

“You mean the peace process” I asked.

 

“The peace process has failed us. It’s not helping anyone here. Politicians sold us down the river. – the whole lot of them. We’re living in a cage here, a prison.”

 

Community worker Jim Wilson walks around Cluan Place with me, its neat houses with plastic protective windows instead of glass; Union flags hanging from most front walls – and the monstrous “peaceline” looming up over it all:

 

“Loyalist and Nationalist workers on both sides have worked hard to try and resolve things,” he says.

 

“It’s not worked Jim has it – I mean, just look around us?”

 

“No, it’s difficult. It’s very hard to turn back youths from chucking stuff over the walls because they think they’re defending Loyalism, Nationalism, whatever. There’s peace of a kind but these young people have still known nothing but hatred.”

 

He talks of 23 families forced out of Cluan Place by attacks since the peace process began.

 

Underlining the deep sense of alienation in this largely jobless world, the recent announcement of the dire state of the voting register in this politician-infested place. (link to http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/news-and-media/news-releases/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-reviews-and-research/urgent-action-required-to-improve-northern-irelands-electoral-register)

 

Perhaps one in five improperly registered and around 400,000 missing altogether. These are colossal figures across the Northern Ireland.

 

Locals here all know voting rates in areas like this are not as high as those over the fence in the Short Strand where they will tell you the same stories of siege and attack from the Loyalist estates surrounding.

 

Few in Cluan Place have much enthusiasm for voting. All agree the paramilitaries will step into the vacuum. Are stepping in.

 

Here at the edge of the Union, symbols matter. A woman carrying her Union-flag tea-mug proudly shows off her Union-flag. But it’s no flag – it’s her bathroom: Union-flag loo: seat, lid, the works.

 

Outside some accept there’s no way they will change the democratic view of the council on the flagflying issue.

 

In Cluan Place this merely underlines the sense of loss, futility and impotence.

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3 reader comments

  1. Prince Charles says:

    If Rangers leave the Scottish league,where are they going to go?
    Is Mr Green serious?

  2. Forty Two says:

    G cass, you miss the point, apparently we signed up to a world where nobody chucks anything, first or second, third, forth. Who know how manny times one projectile went over the wall. one thing you can be sure of is this is not piece, not even the illusion of piece. The Dep First minister can not even bring himself to use the countries proper name. Its Northern Ireland, not “the north of Ireland” “the northern part of the island of Ireland” this is very basic stuff, this is over a decade of piece, trust, mutual respect and understanding ? and the person running the place can not use the countries name ? If we (and i mean all of us) are going to make Northern Ireland work, we have to accept it is a country, or is that to sensible ?

  3. Alex Forsyth says:

    Peace process, Good Friday agreement, respect for one another, their culture and beliefs, parity of esteem and Cluan Place.
    One side can cause a war but it takes all sides to keep the Peace.
    The law abiding, Peace loving families who are currently living under siege conditions are frightened to come and go like most other families do in the rest of this United Kingdom, and just like those families they deserve the full protection of the law and all that entails, all damages repaired and paid for.

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