Three Conference Papers on Aspects of Sectarian Division - 'Borders within Borders'
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...The technology of silence
the blurring of terms
of words or music or even
Silence can be a plan
the blueprint to a life
It is a presence
Do not confuse it
Background to the research
The history of segregation in Ireland pre-dates the troubles of the
last twenty five years. Jones' (1956) work describes the considerable segregation
in Belfast, which was particularly marked in working class areas. Barrit
and Carter's (1962) which also pre-dates the troubles, indicates that segregation
With the upheavals of 1968 and 1969, Belfast in particular, and Derry
and other urban areas in general experienced violence which directly led
to many people fleeing their homes and seeking the greater safety of a
politically or religiously homogenous area. At this time, the first "peace
lines" of security fences were built, many of which still exist today,
and many others appeared subsequently.
The research described in this paper began with a focus on residential
segregation, and the recent evidence that the residential divisions in
urban areas between Catholics and Protestants have been deepening. The
City of Derry or Londonderry is divided by the river Foyle, with a Catholic
majority on the cityside and a Protestant majority in the Waterside. In
both the Waterside and the cityside there are minority enclave populations:
- in the cityside the minority Protestant population is concentrated in
the Fountain area, and in the Waterside the minority Catholic population
is concentrated in Gobnascale. There have been shifts in population, notably
a move of Protestants from the cityside to the Waterside, and an overall
decrease in the Protestant population none of which had been quantified
until this research, and which has led to concern about the deepening of
A group of people known as the Guildhall Group, drawn from the Catholic
and Protestant communities in the North West and elsewhere in Northern
Ireland, came together during 1993 to examine ways of advancing the dialogue
about political developments across the sectarian divide. After a number
of meetings, a sub-group within the Guildhall Group clarified their intention
to undertake research in order to examine specific aspects of sectarian
division in Derry, - or as the Protestant minority in the city call it,
The political climate
The project was designed over a six month period during 1993. This was
done by the sub-group of the Guildhall Group, who discussed and amended
draft research designs produced by the researcher. At that time, political
violence was continuing in Northern Ireland and dialogue on political issues
across the political divide was relatively rare, and to engage in such
dialogue was perceived to be risky, if not dangerous. Some members of the
Guildhall Group wished their membership of the Group to be kept secret
for these reasons, and it appeared to be particularly difficult for those
who came from the Protestant community. When violent incidents occurred,
the tension at Guildhall Group meetings would increase. Yet those who attended
took the risk of discussing politics with people some of whom they had
never met before, from the "other" community. It was in this
atmosphere that the project was designed, and funding was sought.
Funding was eventually secured, leave of absence for the researcher from the university was obtained, a company limited by guarantee was established and the project started in September 1994. Just as the project was beginning, the IRA announced an unconditional cease-fire, and this was followed several weeks later by a loyalist cease-fire, both of which have held until the time of writing. These cease-fires constituted a dramatic and unprecedented change in the political climate in which the project was to operate. In the early months of the cease-fire, much speculation took place, both locally and among politicians about their permanency. However, as the length of the cease-fires grew, changes in daily life began to happen. A diminution of troops and armed police on the streets, fewer checkpoints, an increase in some areas of normal policing, on issues such as traffic and parking offences, an increase in the numbers of people using the city centre, particularly at night, all gradually became apparent. Eventually, street demonstrations began to occur, on issues such as the visit of Prince Charles and John Major to the city. Disputes occurred and recurred:- about the name of the city- Unionists calling it Londonderry and the predominantly anti-unionist city council calling it Derry; the right of the loyalist Apprentice Boys to march on the walls of the city which overlook the Bogside, an anti-unionist area. Public debate also challenged the reality of republican cease-fires when violence continued in another form-punishment beatings were ongoing in anti-unionist areas. There was also a growing concern about a rise in drug trafficking as a result of the cease-fire and the attendant removal of the paramilitary deterrent to drug peddling. An atmosphere of expectation -some cynical and some less so -surrounded the announcement of the economic aid packages from the European and other governments.
The methodological issues raised by the research and the solutions adopted
to those issues have been documented in greater depth elsewhere (see Smyth
M. and Moore, R. 1995.) The methodological approach adopted could be described
as New Paradigm Research (Reason, P. Rowan, J. 1993), or, popularly, -
A number of principles were considered central to the operation of the research. These were:
1. Research should be an exchange between the researcher and the researched in which both roles are crucial and equally valuable.
A number of mechanisms were incorporated into the research design in order to implement those principles:
Action Research and Change
(Reinhartz S. (1992) Feminist Methods in Social Research)
The research process is one of creating dialogue, collecting information,
analysis it, feeding it back to the participants, to the other community
and establishing intersubjective understandings. Those understandings are
then communicated to policy makers and influentials, and their responses
are incorporated into the research. Since the research process is explicitly
concerned with generating change in the situation of participants, the
ultimate evaluation of the research will not merely be in terms of data
and its analysis, but also of movement and change which occurred. Conclusions
about causal relationships must necessarily be tentative since one can
merely document the information collected and disseminated, the changing
expressions of consciousness, the quality and form of dialogue, the policy
changes, and the life situations revealed and interpreted.
There is a tension between being 'useful' to the communities, contributing
positively to the ongoing work in each of the communities being studied,
engaging with local people, on the one hand, and on the other, the need
to be a "researcher", analytically competent, and able to detach
sufficiently from the community to engage in the research task. There are
moments when the role of the researcher resembles that of a community development
worker, and the goal that the research should make a positive contribution
to the communities being studied often accentuates the community development
aspect of the research role.
The qualitative and quantative aspects of the project are inter-connected.
Initially, we conducted an interrogation of the census data to establish the baseline population changes in the city and in the areas being studied. We used small area statistics on a grid square basis. We may do further work in the future on enumeration district statistics, in order to quantify deprivation and other issues in the two communities being studied. We have designed a questionnaire for use in the two communities which will test the prevalence of some of the views and experiences found in the in-depth interviews carried out in each area.
Qualitative methods are being used in the compilation of fieldwork notes,
records of public seminars, and in-depth interviews; and an action research
or, - more accurately, "interaction research" orientation is
being maintained by the ongoing presentation of our findings, the use of
the responses we receive to shape the next phase of the work, and the ongoing
interaction with the communities and relevant policy makers. The compilation
of field notes, and the "matching" of fieldworkers to communities
of the same identity as themselves affords the opportunity to exploit and
explore the insights gained by conscious use of the workers' subjective
views and observations. A comparison of these, the use of reflective dialogues
in which the impact of each community on each worker is explored will provide
the opportunity to deepen the qualitative analysis.
The research design
The research was designed to be composed of a number of parts:
- establishment of the size of the population shift through the interrogation
of census data
The research design which involves both qualitative and quantitative
methods, action-research, and ongoing feedback of our findings to the researched
communities and to the city as a whole. The research design can be depicted
1. a change in the ratio of Protestants to Catholics in the city, due
to substantial decline in the overall total Protestant population in the
city as a whole;
2. an internal shift of Protestants from the east to the west banks
of the city;
3. an increase in internal segregation in two communities, which we
suggest may be indicative of a wider trend towards increased segregation.
1. We first examined the population figures by religion for the
entire city area, using a grid square which is approximately bounded by
Termon House on the Letterkenny Road in the South West, Drumahoe Bridge
in the South East, Thornhill College in the North East and the Sewage Works
at Elagh Road in the North West. We extracted total population figures
from the 1971, 1981 and 1991 census of population, and a breakdown by religion
for each year.
As is widely known, the figures for 1981 are not entirely reliable due
to difficulties with the return rate in that census. We also collected
data from the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party,
which estimated the decline in the Protestant population in the city. We
incorporated these figures into our public presentation on the changing
population balance, and outlined the reasons why our figures were different.
Changing electoral boundaries over the twenty year period have made a longitudinal
analysis of ward data virtually meaningless. Furthermore, the age for voting
changed from 21 years to 18 years in the middle of the period in question,
thus rendering electoral figures unreliable, and requiring us to resort
to grid square data.
TABLE 1: POPULATION OF DERRY/LONDONDERRY BY RELIGION FROM THE 1971,
1981 & 1991 CENSUS OF POPULATION FOR NI USING GRID REFERENCES C410150
An examination of these figures for the urban area of the city shows
a change in the ratio of Protestants to Catholics in the city, a substantial
decline in the overall total Protestant population in the city as a whole.(
See Table 1)
This overall trend is mirrored in similar trends in the city of Belfast,
where a similar exodus of the Protestant population to the North Down and
Ards area has been documented. It is likely that the causes of such shifts
are complex and composed of a number of interacting factors. The activities
of planners and policy makers has impacted, whether intentionally or unintentionally,
on many factors including the sectarian balance. Further, we know that
policy in certain fields such as housing, plays a significant role in shaping
the sectarian geography of our cities and towns.
2. The second examination of the statistics was aimed at establishing
internal migration within the urban area. For this purpose, an examination
of the small area statistics using grid squares was conducted. A patchwork
of grid squares which approximated the Waterside and Cityside areas was
constructed, and the total population figures, again broken down by religion,
were examined. Table 2 shows the Waterside figures, and Table 3 shows the
figures for the Cityside.
TABLE 2: WATERSIDE: TOTAL POPULATION BY RELIGION
The Waterside Catholic population figures for 1981 as with other figures
for that year, (particularly for the Catholic population) are not reliable.
Nonetheless, there has been a small increase in the Catholic population
in the Waterside, from 7708 in 1971 to 8032 in 1991: an increase of 324.
The increase in the Waterside Protestant population is somewhat larger:
from 7849 in 1971 to 9935 in 1991: an increase of 1903.
An examination of the figures for the Cityside (Table 3) shows that
there has also been an increase in the Catholic population in the Cityside,
from 33951 in 1971 to 48233 in 1991, an increase of 14282. The Protestant
population, on the other hand , has decreased from 8459 in 1971 to 1407
in 1991, a decrease of 7052. This decrease of 7052 is not offset by the
increase of 1903 in the Waterside Protestant population. The overall trend
in population movement is of Protestant movement out of the city area completely.
TABLE 3: CITYSIDE: TOTAL POPULATION BY RELIGION (see footnote
2 for grid references)
Table 1 suggests that the decline in the Protestant population for the
city as a whole is 4983 over the twenty year period. Tables 2 and 3, which
use different land boundaries, suggest that the overall decline in Protestant
population in the Cityside of 7052 is somewhat offset by an increase in
the Waterside Protestant population of 1903, giving an overall decline
of 5149 for the city as a whole . It seems reasonable to conclude, therefore,
that the city population of Protestants has declined by at least 5000 people.
However, this figure may be an underestimation. It has been argued that
the majority of those who respond "none" to the religion question
on the census are, in fact, Protestant. Bearing this in mind, we should
note-, according to Table 1 - an overall decline in this category in the
overall city population of 4198. There has been an equivalent increase
of 384 in the Waterside "none, other and not stated"population
in the twenty year period, giving some credence to the view that these
people are, in fact, Protestant. A corresponding decline in the same population
in the Cityside (see Table 3) of 2896 would tend to confirm this view.
This means that the overall decrease citywide in this category is 2512
people. Potentially, therefore, the population loss of Protestants to the
city is 5149 plus some of this number: a maximum potential loss of 7661,
although it is unlikely that all of the 2512 "none other and not stated"
category are Protestants.
What is evident from an examination of the Cityside and Waterside figures
is an internal shift of Protestants from the east to the west banks of
the city, in the context of an overall decline in the Protestant population
of the city of between five to six and a half thousand people.
Some of these changes in population balance are not due to migration,
but to natural increases in the population. Migration occurs for a variety
of reasons, and sometimes a combination of several reasons: upward mobility;
acquisition of better housing; employment; decline of the area due to vandalism,
redevelopment, as well as fear, intimidation and sectarian issues.
3. We examined small area statistics for two communities within
the city. We looked at the Fountain and Gobnascale as examples of enclave
communities. The geographic definition of the Fountain community proved
problematic, in that the community boundaries have contracted with the
decline in population. We used contemporary boundaries as defined by current
residents, and the figures here are the nearest grid square data within
What emerges from the examination of the Fountain small area statistics
is the severity of the population decline whilst the religious balance
of the population - predominantly Protestant - remains virtually unaltered.
Our preliminary inquiries indicate that a variety of factors appear to
be involved in this depopulation: redevelopment; the housing market; a
particular form of housing blight; and sectarian issues including violence
The population figures and religious breakdown for Gobnascale were examined
using the same definition and method of extracting the data. Whilst the
total Catholic population in the area has fluctuated slightly, there has
been a dramatic decline in all other denominations, including a decline
in the category "Other, None and Not Stated." The marked trend
towards increased segregation is evident. This trend is symptomatic of
a wider trend towards an increase in internal segregation in two communities,
which we suggest may be indicative of a wider trend towards increased segregation.
The trend towards increased segregation and the decline of the Protestant
population in the city, which gave rise to the research in the first place
was quantified. We published the population figures and framed them in
a submission to the Area Planning team who are in the process of devising
the Area Plan for the next six years. We also published the submission
to them, have argued publicly that the formulation of the new area plan
is an opportunity to begin to disentangle some of these factors and explore
the role planners can and should play.
This trend is one which raises questions about the desirability of increased
segregation and presents a challenge to social scientists, politicians
and policy makers. It raises issues about the nature and purpose of segregation,
the possibility and validity of "social engineering" and the
kinds of cultural and political environment we will be living in if the
trend continues. These issues are most marked in urban environments where
the greatest amounts of violence has been experienced, but are by no means
absent from rural areas, as Murtagh's (1995) ongoing work is illustrating.
What is clear is that the Fountain is a community which requires urgent
and special support, if it is to survive culturally and socially. This
is a situation which some Protestant enclave communities in Belfast are
also experiencing. In policy terms, the plight of communities such as The
Fountain raises the question of whether special arrangement should be made
to recognise and address the decline of this community, which has been
uniquely affected by a combination of factors. The dilemma is this: to
fail to recognise the special situation of communities such as the Fountain
and to make no special provision to support such communities is to contribute
by default to the processes of increased segregation and to the endangering
of the Fountain as a community.
This returns us, however to the question of the desirability of segregation,
the reasons for its continuation, and indeed the reasons why some argue
passionately for bringing an end to it, and for integration. Should we
support, with a range of facilitative social policies, the existence of
enclave communities, rather than allow the process of segregation to proceed
"naturally"? We will return to these questions again and again.
The ethnography: establishing a base in the communities
One of the Directors of Templegrove is resident in the Fountain, is heavily involved in community organisations in the area, and has a chemist shop on the edge of the Fountain. He provides an ongoing contact within the area and a useful touchstone for local issues. He is also a source of information about the history of the area, and a resource through which other research material and other published work on the area is available. The Community Researcher established initial contact with: a community organisation - Diamond Projects Trust; and a local amenity, the Fountain Shop, negotiating the use of its noticeboard; Individuals who attended the well-publicised public meeting; other individuals suggested by the local Director. Information and perceptions of the problems and concerns of the area were gathered. Discussion with the Chair and Secretary of the Fountain Partnership, along with six in-depth interviews have offered further insight into the range of issues concerning Fountain residents. Two of these contacts have lead to a further interview with a former resident of the Fountain, now living in the Waterside, which deals with a specific experience of intimidation.
Initial contact within the Gobnascale community was with the Family
Centre, through which the progress of setting up a new community organisation
in the area was monitored. This new organisation was to be representative
of all interests in the area and its development had been supported by
the Family Centre. The Family Centre also provided names of local residents
who would be willing to be interviewed and disseminated information about
the project in the area. In the early months of 1995, the new community
organisation was formed under the name Top of the Hill 2010 and in April,
the Project Director acted as facilitator at a think-tank on the strategy
for the area. This was of mutual benefit to the community and the project,
and afforded an insight into the residents' aspiration and priorities for
the area. The conduct of in-depth interviews also offered further perspectives
into the issues and views of local residents.
Preliminary Fieldwork: the findings emerging to date
At this stage certain trends are emerging in the fieldwork, which can
be summarised as follow.
2.The issue of commitment to the area is one which has emerged in both the Fountain and Gobnascale. In the Fountain commitment to the area is tested by the ability to stay in the area, and "drifters" - those who move in and don't stay-, "bad elements" all test the commitment of those who do stay in the area. In Gobnascale, such "drifters" were a feature of the 1980's, but now the area has a stable and growing population. Their commitment is amenities in the area, and in working across factions in the community opposed to one another, to achieve a common good.
3. The issue of differences between residents within the enclave also emerged in both areas. In the Fountain, and in Gobnascale, differences between residents tended to be seen as problematic and destructive. In both areas factionalism and conflict between factions had occurred. Although Top of The Hill appears, at least on the surface, to have resolved some of these difficulties, they appear to be in the process of resolution in the Fountain.
4.The issue of morale in the areas threw up some differences between the Fountain and Gobnascale. Whereas residents in the Top of The Hill were positive about the research, the researcher in the Fountain was often told that she had her work "cut out for her" coming to "sort us out". We are also told that in the Fountain, an area where there are substantial numbers of vacant houses, there is a long waiting list of residents waiting to move out. Conversely, there is a long waiting list for houses in Gobnascale.
5.Our preliminary findings on why people leave or have left the areas are tentative at this stage. In the Fountain, housing of a bad quality, or the wrong type was mentioned as a reason for leaving. Also mentioned was the movement of "drifters" or "bad elements" into the area, and having a young family was seen as a reason for within to leave to avoid these influences.
In Gobnascale/Top of the Hill, these factors also featured, but gender- namely the prospect of rearing sons in the area was cited as a reason for leaving - for fear of sons becoming " involved". Direct experience of, for example car hi-jacking was also mentioned as a reason for leaving, and constant police and army presence and the stopping of people on the street was also mentioned as a factor in people wanting to leave.
Intimidation was mentioned in both areas, and led to people moving into both enclaves, from neighbouring mixed areas. Attacks on the area - the Annie's Bar killings in 1972 in Gobnascale were mentioned as having generated fear in the area, and in the Fountain ongoing stoning and attacks on the area were mentioned. Fountain residents also mentioned lying, if asked where they were from, and being secretive about contact with "the other side" in case of being perceived as a traitor.
6. We were given various reasons for staying in each of the enclave areas. In the Fountain, staying was seen as an act of defiance a "No surrender" stand. In both area the inability to afford to move out was mentioned, and in both areas, family ties, and the proximity of relatives were cited as reasons for staying. In Gobnascale, a hypothesis emerged about a possible "fight or flight" reaction to the issue of staying or moving, with residents either staying and fighting or moving out without challenging, for example, local street fighting or vandalism.
In the Fountain, the availability of help from Unionist politicians in securing alternative housing outside the area was also mentioned as a factor in people leaving the area.
In Gobnascale it appears as Cityside people who moved to Gobnascale in the 1970's have adopted the area as "home" whereas those who moved in the 1980's were less likely to stay. Residents reported being questioned by Catholics from the Cityside about " how they could stick it" in the Waterside.
7. Differences between the areas. On Gobnascale , the availability of good quality privately owned housing within the area means that residents can be "upwardly mobile", yet remain within the area, whilst this is not the case in the Fountain. Fountain residents also experience the difficulties and advantages associated with being a city centre community: traffic flow, and excessive non-resident car parking yet easy access to the city centre.
8. Engagement in dialogue. In both communities, issues about engaging in open discussion about issues related to sectarian division have emerged. In the Fountain, the discussion of the future of the fence around the area was perceived as threatening when it took place outside the area. Being seen to talk to the "other side" or acknowledging that people do talk to the "other side" is also seen as risky, and potentially disloyal. Similarly talking to the R.U.C. is problematic within the Catholic community because of the danger of being seen to "collaborate" with the police, and , potentially lose credibility within sections of the Catholic community.
Creating a climate of public discussion
An important tool to and aim of research which seeks to activate a process
and movement beyond, is dialogue. As Paulo Freire conceptualised it, dialogue
operates as a tool which may bring together/integrate the processes of
inquiry and intervention. At the planning stage of the project we anticipated
that the presentation of the final findings of the fieldwork would take
place in venues where people feel safest and most free to engage in dialogue
and that this would emerge more clearly in the course of the work. At that
time we saw the presentation of results as a final stage of the project.
However, with the unexpected advent of the cease-fires, the project began
to be aware of the possibility of ongoing presentation of research material,
- our own and that of other people - as something which would generate
debate and discussion in a newly developing climate where the threat of
violence was removed. The project therefore designed and ran a public seminar
series, which facilitated public discussion on aspects of sectarian division
The topics addressed in the meetings were:
"The name of the city: Derry or Londonderry";
The work of creating public dialogue will continue with a series of
public "hearings" in October and November 1995 which will offer
a platform to various minority groups in the city to describe their experience
of living as a minority.
The citywide and wider dimension
Segregation in context
How important is residential segregation in understanding the politics
of Northern Ireland? How widespread is it? To what extent does it structure
social and political relations in Northern Ireland? Whyte (1990)states:
Segregation at work affects only a minority of workers. Differing patterns
of voluntary activities complement and strengthen other divisions, but
are not by themselves claimed by any author to be of primary importance.
Residential segregation is important in some areas: indeed it may be the
most important factor of all in keeping the communities divided for the
35-40 per cent who are affected by it. But that leaves 60-5 per cent who
are not. The Churches themselves, and the Orange Order, certainly divide
Protestant from Catholic, but they also divide Protestants from each other...The
two factors which do most to divide Protestants as a whole from Catholics
as a whole are endogamy and separate education...p44..
What functions does it perform?
Quite apart from the historic settlement patterns prior to the troubles
which were already segregated to some extent, segregation has acted as
a mechanism for handling the problem of the relationship between the two
political/religious communities in Northern Ireland. This relationship
has occurred within the context of British government, and within a power
struggle on a dominance- subordination pivot. The relationship has been
characterised by discrimination, power struggles, violence, coercion and
intimidation. Segregation has been a strategy employed by communities to
manage the real threat of violence and an attempt to create a safe and
less threatening environment in which people can lead their daily lives.
It has a number of intended and unintended consequences.
Safety. The issue of safety has a double edge in segregated areas,
particularly in enclaves. Original reasons for segregation in the late
1960's were safety and solidarity against attack. Street battles, and the
burning out of houses meant that many families fled to the safety of an
area where they were "amongst their own." Yet in the two areas
studied, the segregated nature of the areas has also meant that they are
targeted for attack. In Gobnascale, the Annie's Bar killings in 1972, and
in The Fountain, the killings of William King and Bobby Stott were possible
because enclave areas were a obvious place to select a target. Ongoing
sectarian attacks continue on the periphery of both areas at the time of
writing. In the case of The Fountain, there is some evidence to suggest
that, since the cease-fires, incursions into The Fountain have been more
"daring", going further and further into the area to put a brick
through someone's window or to slash car tyres, now that the threat of
paramilitary retaliation is suspended. In Gobnascale, attacks occur largely
on the access road to the estate, which passes alongside a working class
Protestant estate, and take the form of male on male violence. Similar
male on male violence occurs in the city centre, experienced by young men
from the Fountain, who avoid going into the city centre as a result.
Whilst it may feel safer to live in an enclave area, the evidence to support this view is ambiguous. North Belfast, a highly segregated area, with a considerable number of enclaves has experienced more than its proportional share of the violence in the last 25 years. Whilst one may feel secure in retreating behind the boundaries of an enclave, one's presence within such an area is tantamount to a public statement about one's identity. Those seeking to conduct a violent attack on the "other" community find a ready made target in such an area. The stigma attached to such areas - and the projection onto them of the "bad" area label, thereby attributing to all residents extreme political views and bigotry may act as a pseudo-justification for such attacks.
Enclave areas in general have a stigma attached to them: - residents
have a consciousness of living in a "bad area", and this impact
on both personal and community identity. In both areas, we found that residents
had ways of dealing with this when outside the area. Some Gobnascale residents
refused to call the area "Gobnascale" but preferred to call it
the more generic "Top of the Hill" which includes some privately
owned housing, thus creating a wider and more ambiguous identity for themselves.
Some Fountain residents reported fear in identifying themselves as Fountain
residents when in the city centre. This fear is largely due to the threat
of violence. However, the stigma attached to such areas may have some collective
significance in the wider society. If "bad" areas exist, then
so must "good" areas. The existence of "bad" areas
allows the effect of the troubles, and the "bad men" to be metaphorically
quarantined, leaving the rest of the country apparently "trouble-free"
or "sectarian-free" zones. Such attribution of trouble, violence,
extremism, terrorism, and so on, to enclaves or to segregated areas, also
supports the "men of violence" thesis for the causation of the
conflict, whilst denying any more widespread or systemic causes. It is
the "one bad apple" construction, which then justifies the saturation
of enclaves with security presence, and the resultant over-policing and
stigmatising of residents.
Precisely because these communities formed and consolidated around safety
issues and gathered together against an outside threat, the collective
identity and consciousness is very strong. Violent attack on any individual
in the community is often perceived as an attack on the entire enclave
community itself. The Annie's Bar shooting in Gobnascale was not merely
an attack on a bar, but an attack on the entire community. In a wider sense,
it is also perceived, beyond the area, as an attack on the entire Catholic
community of Northern Ireland.
The issues of personal and community identity appear to be connected.
Kennedy (1983) discussing this, cites Burton's (1978) study of "Anro",
a Belfast enclave community. Burton discusses the interconnection between
community, family and personal identity:
Kennedy goes on to say:
In the intervening years since Burton's study, the initial chaos with
which these enclave areas were formed has become somewhat settled. However,
memories of the period of chaos and the street battles which led to the
movement of people into segregated living remain a prominent part of the
history, and were frequently referred to in our interviews. Commonly held
beliefs have incorporated the experiences of people in the area. Scepticism
with the authorities and the ability of government agencies to desire or
to achieve positive change in the area appears to be part of the community
belief system in both the Catholic and the Protestant enclaves.
In both areas, the achievement and maintenance of a cohesive community
identity was considered crucial by virtually all those we interviewed.
To be a "real" community as Kennedy points out,
Kennedy remarks on
Kennedy implies that the frequently verbalise their identification with
"Anro" is related to their experience of threat and is therefore
some form of mechanism designed to neutralise or otherwise cope with the
threat. In both of the areas we work in, strong identification with the
area is also a feature. Gobnascale residents frequently speak of "commitment"
to the area, of loving the view from the estate, of wanting things to improve.
A newly formed community association is energetically pursuing a range
of issues in order to achieve such improvements. Fountain residents were
more pessimistic, to begin with, about the prospects for their area, but
no less concerned. They worried about resources for the area, they suspected
the authorities intentions and commitment to the future of the area. They
see the area as of significance, not just to themselves, but to the Protestant
community of Northern Ireland, because of the Seige of Derry and the historic
sites within the city. One residents speaks of the "Seige Mentality"
within the area and of the importance of The Fountain remaining a Protestant
enclave within the city. In both areas, family ties, and the presence of
extended family within the area was cited as a motivation for remaining
within the area. Such ties appear to be highly significant in maintaining
cohesion within the community and in making people want to stay in the
In both areas, splits within the community which threatened community
cohesion and the possibility of a unified community identity occurred along
ostensibly political lines, which may also have a class- aspirational basis
to them. In both areas, splits occurred between supporters of political
parties who are associated with or construed to be supportive of paramilitary
activity and with large working class support and those who support political
parties who are critical of violence and who have more middle class support.
In Gobnascale, the split occurred between Sinn Fein supporters and supporters
of the SDLP, and in The Fountain, the split was between the Democratic
Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party. In Gobnascale, much has been
achieved to heal the split and the new community association enjoys unified
community support. In The Fountain, the work is ongoing, but progress has
been made in the last few months.
Does segregation work? Is it a good or a bad thing?
Murtagh (1994)has questioned the orthodox view that segregation is necessarily
negative or entirely problematic. We have differentiated elsewhere (Smyth,
1995) between segregation as a principle and segregation as a strategy.
The ongoing work described in this paper suggests that segregation performs
two main positive functions:-it increases the sense of safety and allows
distancing from danger and it allows and indeed requires the development
and reinforcement of community culture, links and solidarity. However,
concern about the detrimental effects of segregation is what leads many
to oppose it - usually on principle, when its use is often strategic. What
are these detrimental effects, if any? Whyte (1990) writes,
Does segregation increases prejudice? Not all authors have agreed that
it does. Some see integration as a way forward, and have argued that it
plays a role in prejudice reduction. Fraser (1973, 128-42), Heskin (1980,
144-7) and Murray (1985, 91-105, 120-3) have both argued that segregated
education allows prejudice to flourish. McWhirter (1983)has argued that
integrated education will diminish prejudice. This has been contradicted
by Rose (1971, 336-7) and by Trew (1986, 102) who found that integrated
education made little difference to children's attitudes. To some extent,
the strength of any of these positions depends on the importance accorded
to prejudice in causing or contributing to the conflict. Given the original
motivation for the increase in segregation at the beginning of the troubles,
namely personal safety and the desire to live with less fear, the question
which must arise is this: does segregation do more damage than remaining
in a situation where violence and intimidation are rife? Surely violent
or fearful contact with the other community will do little to reduce prejudice.
Yet that was the choice which faced many who moved to segregated areas.
Yet the effect of living in a community which is religiously or politically
homogenous must concern us. Does such an environment reinforce the possibility
of rigid and fixed world views by constraining possible dialogue? Consciousness
of being different from surrounding area can lead to a sense of isolation.
Strong social cohesion within area, a "we can do it ourselves"
attitude, can weaken links with surrounding hinterland, these links being
impossible with the immediate hinterland because of the sectarian dimension.
Links with the immediate hinterland may be made to negotiate about sectarian
attack. When such contacts are made, they are often secret and considered
to be high risk. Making such links are perceived as a threat to loyalty
and challenge to social cohesiveness of the area - letting in the enemy.
Links beyond the hinterland are difficult to make for any community with
limited economic resources and community expertise. for these communities
with their historic preoccupation with safety, strong kinship and internal
cohesion and ties, it is virtually impossible.
As a result of the research to date, we revisited the literature on
sectarian segregation. The literature on Northern Ireland has addressed
the issue of residential segregation as one of primary concern.(Jones,
1956; Barrit and Carter, 1962; Boal 1969; Boal, 1971; Poole and Boal, 1973;
Boal, Murray and Poole, 1976; Darby and Morris, 1974; Poole, 1982; Compton
and Power, (1986) - based on the 1981 census; Smith, 1987; Darby, 1986;
i.e. in housing. Other forms of segregation have been which identified
are workplace segregation (Barritt and Carter, 1962; Rose, 1971;
Moxon Browne, 1981; Chambers, 1987.) sport, leisure and voluntary including
trades union activity (Barritt and Carter, 1962; Harris, 1972; Darby,
1976; Galway, 1978; Buckley, 1982; endogamy (Harris, 1972; Rose,
1971; Moxon Browne, 1982; Compton and Coward, 1989; Smith, 1987; Buckley,
1982; McFarlane,1979) education (Murray, 1985; Barritt and Carter,
1962; Darby et al, 1977; Cairns, 1987; Fraser, 1973; Heskin, 1980; McWhirter,
1983; Trew. 1986; Dunn,1984; Osborne and Cormack, 1989; Austin, 1986; Fee,
Whilst the work in the project has been concentrated primarily on residential
segregation, we have become increasingly aware of the interrelations between,
for example sectarian segregation and class or gender segregation, or other
forms of political segregation. It is noteworthy that in the literature
on Northern Ireland, with one exception, (Fee, 1980) no author problematises
forms of segregation other than sectarian segregation. Yet class and gender
segregation are prevalent and co-exist and impact on sectarian division.
The question of whether class segregation fosters class prejudice and division,
or whether gender segregation perpetuates the subordination of women are
virtually unaddressed in the literature.
We will take class aspects of housing segregation as an example. Housing
choice is primarily determined by economic resources at a family or individual's
disposal. The family or individual is consigned primarily by economic circumstances,
to a section of the housing market: owner occupation, public housing or
the private rented sector. The sector which the person enters (in which
s/he is more or less class-segregated) will determine their choices in
relation to sectarian segregation. [There is a myth, in some quarters,
that middle class housing is not segregated. A remark overheard in Derry
in early 1995, made by a Protestant business man who lives in an expensive
privately owned housing development, belies this. Another man explained
to this man that the person who had bought the house next to his was Catholic.
His response was, "That's one on either side of me now. It's time
Similarly, certain aspects of sectarian segregation are considered as
obviously problematic and taken seriously by policy makers and analysts,
- spatial, i.e. residential (i.e. housing) and institutional(occupational
and educational) segregation - whereas other forms of segregation - in
public and private discourse, for example,- are relegated to the realms
of "psychologising" a political problem, as if discourse was
unrelated to politics, or was unresponsive to public policy, or unworthy
of "serious" academic attention.
As a result of these concerns, the definition of sectarian segregation
used in the research has broadened. It appears that segregation can take
a number of forms. Most commonly, and of undoubted importance segregation
is a material fact, with a spatial, concrete environmental
reality, as in housing segregation. This is perhaps the most visible and
dramatic form of segregation, with concrete manifestations such as peace
lines and barbed wire to remind us of its existence. Residential segregation
is, in its most obvious and dramatic manifestations, largely a working
class phenomenon and co-exists with class segregation and poverty. Murtagh
(1994) has pointed out that enclave areas in particular score higher on
social deprivation indices than other working class areas. Institutional
segregation is manifest in first and second level education, legal practice,
and in social institutions such as sport. Economic segregation
is manifest in occupational segregation, and in patterns of economic development.
However, it is political segregation, - the refusal to talk
to certain parties, groups or occupations -, and ideological
segregation, -the refusal to engage with certain ideas- that potentially
inhibit the possibility of political progress at present. Clearly, political
and ideological segregation is practised not only by the two communities
in the North, but also structures the relationships of others with the
two communities and has also been a matter of government policy. We argue
that this is supported and conditioned by social segregation,
namely the tendency to mix with those from one's own political community
and avoid, consciously or unconsciously, those from the other community
and by interpersonal segregation, namely the use of silence
and avoidance of certain issues in "mixed" company, a fear /flight
or fight reaction to issues of division and the practice of identity management
and social alibis. Interpersonal segregation, where parts
of identity or experience are denied and cordoned off, and where identity
is "managed" according to those splits, makes for an internal
or personal world of fear, secrets, silence, unresolved trauma, polarised
loyalties, anger, and hatred at a personal level. This last form of segregation
requires no physical or visible boundary or separation: it is prevalent
in the society, and does not always co-exist with other forms of segregation,
yet it performs many of the same functions, in terms of maintaining feelings
of safety. However, social, political and psychological change rarely feels
Segregation is sometimes blatant and obvious: we can see peace lines
or boundary fences and see the barbed wire of the material reality of segregation.
The existence of segregated (read working class or poor) communities allows
the middle class world to project onto such areas the image of the "bad"
area where bigots live, and violence happens as a result. Our work and
that of others, (Murtagh, 1994) in enclave areas challenges this. This
projection of the "badness" onto such areas allows the illusion
of a "normal" society in which there are a few "bad apples"
to be perpetuated. Sectarianism, as a systemic phenomenon, located within
a larger context of contested sovereignty, is a social system is composed
of a number of interacting and interdependent parts. Ideological, institutional,
and collective aspects of sectarianism sit alongside and reify the interpersonal
and interpersonal aspects.
Segregation, as a strategy for managing life within such a social system,
is manifest at all levels.
Segregation, in summary, has both a material/spatial aspect in
the form of residential segregation, and an ideological aspect,
in terms of identity management, and restrictions on discourse between
members of the two communities, (and with government representatives).
Segregation can be used as a strategy, or on principle, and
segregation has intended and unintended consequences.
In the wake of the current cease-fires, Douglas Hurd suggested that
the peace lines be taken down, and this suggestion has been repeated since
then by other politicians. There was predictable resistance to this suggestion
from within enclave communities. That the suggestion was made reveals much
about governmental understanding of what the problem is: the "men
of violence". The perception would appear to be that now that the
violence has stopped, everything,- including the peacelines can get back
Segregation can be seen as both resistance and an attempt at
control. We have already discussed how segregation has represented
a community's resistance to intimidation and the threat of violence by
establishing and demarcating "safe" areas within which the life
of the community can continue. Segregation can be seen as a reaction to
wholesale upheaval in the late 1960's and an attempt to regain control
over a community's living environment against the onslaught of attack from
outside. Similarly, segregation can be seen as resistance to threats to
the political or religious identity of a community, or its "freedom"
to express that identity. Finally, segregation can be seen as resistance
to outside influence in the form of attempts at domination. Segregation
can also be seen as resistance to measures which represent to the community
the prospect of social disintegration. The community, in response, establishes
and/or strengthens its perimeter boundary -either physical or ideological
in order to maintain its autonomy or in order to survive.
Residential segregation, in this study, also acts as a control of contact with the other community, - both materially, by physical distance, and ideologically by the refusal to talk. By construing such dialogue as does exist as dangerous, disloyal, or concessionary to interests antipathetic to the community, ideological distance, and therefore ideological autonomy is maintained. The refusal to talk can thus be construed as a form of ideological segregation. As such, the refusal to talk can be seen as an attempt to retain/regain control over a conflict or contest in which the interests or political territory of the community is in question. The refusal to talk is a form of resistance, where the control of the parameters of the transaction but make it impossible for the " other" to treat you as an equal, or to be equal: talking can thus be seen as taking control; not talking can be seen as resistance.
Physical segregation also represents an attempt to maintain control
of the area by one community in that community's interests, and this includes
the control of the political climate of the area. This means that engaging
in discussions with certain interests (for example the police in the case
of the Catholic community or Sinn Fein in the case of the Protestant community)
is seen as threatening to the autonomy or "best interests" of
that community. As we have seen in the fieldwork, however, none of these
forms of segregation prevent internal divisions from within each community
from emerging. A new site of struggle for control of the community emerged
in both communities, - within each of the communities themselves.
Questions arise about the extent to which people in residentially segregated
areas have actually succeeded in controlling their environments. A number
of extraneous influences restrict the attempts at autonomy within such
1. The activities - or lack of activity- on the part of planning and
government authorities. This has been dealt with at greater length elsewhere
2. Economic factors - unemployment within the area and "upward"
migration into private housing outside the area
3.Sectarian attack on the area from the outside world
4. Official policing practices
An ongoing battle for control over such areas results. This has taken the form of virtual "no go" areas for police or outside authorities: the realities of unemployment has meant the subversion of the official economy in some cases by an informal and unofficial economy;
fear of attack, the actuality of ongoing attack, has led to the establishment
of security fences and "vigilante" type activity from within
the area: the need for social control over vandalism and "anti-social
behaviour" within the area has led to paramilitary policing within
Catholic areas particularly, and in the Protestant area, the experience
of policing during the Stevens enquiry has led to a certain amount of suspicion
about the police.
The extent to which the strong cohesion which has been necessary for
the survival of enclave areas mitigates against networking and community
development is one area for concern. Strong inter community bonds may render
the impulse to outside relations and contacts very weak, and perhaps dogged
with suspicion. Awareness within the enclave of how different life elsewhere
is (visitors to Gobnascale ask residents "How can you live here?")
can be limited. The history and experience of segregated communities has
equipped them to effectively resist outside "malign" influences.
This may have resulted in communities which are better at resistance than
at incorporation. This may need to be addressed in the changing circumstances
which the cease-fire and subsequent political developments have represented.
Segregated communities may require experience of outside influences which
are perceived to be less malign, otherwise this limitation may act to prevent
the development of political thinking and awareness of outside perspectives.
The extent to which cohesion and internal solidarity may present another
aspect of resistance - that of resistance to change - remains to be seen.
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CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
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