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1.1 This paper sets out background information on project management and implementation for research into Sectarian Interface Areas in Belfast Urban Area. The paper briefly describes the main stages the research and methods to be employed at each stage. It is not the intention of this paper to restate the background or background to the research nor its specific objectives.
1.2 In concentrating on operationalising the research the paper looks at:

  • timetable and reporting stages

  • specific methods applied at each stage

  • the selection of case studies

  • the questionnaire

1.3 The household questionnaire which forms the core of the case studies is included in the Appendix.


2.0 Interface Zone Analysis

2.1 The first stages of the research are being implemented jointly and should take until January/February 1993 to complete.
2.2 The interface zone analysis involves detailed land use appraisals of the 13 interface zone areas. These are:
1. Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne
2. Ainsworth Avenue/Springfield Road
3. Bryson Street/Short Strand
4. Cluan Place, Short Strand
5. Crumlin Road, Ardoyne
6. Cupar Street
7. Duncairn Gardens/Hallidays Road
8. Elmgrove Street
9. Lower Newtownards Road
10. Manor Street
11. Roden Street
12. Springmartin Road/Springfield Road
13. Suffolk, Stewartstown Road
2.3 Consultations with NIHE and DOE Planning Officials show that these are the main fixed interface zones in the city. The Lower Ormeau Road has become a sectarian flash point particularly during the traditional marching season, but here the Catholic community and the Protestant community in Annadale are separated by major roads, the River Lagan and extensive open spaces.
2.4 Each interface locality will be subjected to a series of physical surveys. The definition the locality is based on the concept of functional space or on the recognition that "particular localities are associated with particular routinized patterns of everyday interaction' (Giddens 1984, The Constitution of Society. Polity press, London, p.118). Within each locale three main surveys will be carried out.
  • Land use survey. This will be carried out using 1.1250 scale maps and will be used to estimate vacancy rates in commercial buildings, void rates in dwelling, and dwelling dereliction. It will also establish the general physical character of the locale under consideration
  • Visual appraisal. In order to compare conditions in peace line areas with the rest of the city and to introduce some element of methodological rigour this survey will use Visual Quality of Local Environment and Problems of Local Environment surveys from the Northern Ireland House Condition Survey. (See Appendix). These measure the conditions of residential and commercial buildings, the condition of the physical environment and conforming and none conforming land uses. This phase of the research will be supported by detailed photographic surveys.
  • Open Space Analysis. This will measure the quantity and condition of open space is the locale. The nature of the interface zone will itself be the subject of a separate analysis. This will include the site characteristics physical pattern of division, relative balance of the two communities, distance between communities, road and pedestrian lay out and movement patterns.
2.5 The objective of this part of the research is to classify the zones into several categories. This analysis will link with the social research to help inform the development of alternative planning options in latter phases of the research.

3.0 Planning Policy Analysis

3.1 This will contain a review of past and current planning policies in each locale. This search is for documentation under four headings.
  • Official Department of the Environment plans such as the Duncairn. Northgate and Alliance Studies.
  • Official NIHE Plans such as Suffolk Priority Estate Action Plan and Roden Street Estate Strategy.
  • NIHE Housing Management strategies that relate more to the management issues at the peace line.
  • Community plans and strategies that explicitly recognise the problems of planning and managing the problems of sectarian interface area. The Woodbourne Interface Project typifies this approach.

4.0 In-depth Interviews

4.1 This phase of the research backs up the planning policy analysis and the site analysis. Four types of in-depth interviews will be carried out:
  • Policy makers in the DOE and the Housing Executive. Most of these have been completed.
  • Experts in Community Relations including Community Relations Council, Centre for Conflict Studies and US Conflict Resolution and dispute negotiation experts.
  • Key interests including the Security Forces, the Eastern Health and Social Services Board and the Belfast Education and Library Board.
  • A series of interviews necessary to establish the cost

5.0Case Study Analysis

5.1 As pointed out in the initial submission the household survey attempts to establish a more detailed understanding of the functioning of interface areas. This section sets out the sample size, design and error rates. The questionnaires set out in draft form in the next section.
Sample Size and Sample Error
5.2 The accepted sample size for the project was 1500 or 500 per area. The overall error rate associated with this design is 20% assuming a 20% estimate proportion simple random sample design and a confidence level of 95%.
5.3 However, even when it comes to individual estates the sample fraction is very high If, for example, Suffolk is selected as the case study area then the sample fraction is 1:2 (250 sample / 525 estate size). Because the sample size is greater than 5% the population size enters into the estimate of the standard error.
5.4 Assuming the sampling conditions outlined above, the error rate in Suffolk would be +/- 4.9%. However, because of the large sample fraction the Finite Population Correction (FPC) cannot be ignored. Using the formula,
. . . . . . . . n .
n(i) = l+(n/N)
where n(i) = revised sample after FPC n original sample size
N = Population (estate size)
the sample necessary to maintain the set level of statistical accuracy can be computed. In the case of Suffolk this is 169 (or 68% of the original sample). However, it is felt important that it is necessary to maintain the permit disagregated reporting, take account of non response rate and to ensure equity in sample distribution across selected areas.
5.5 More detailed analysis of sample size and sample error will be given at the time of sample extraction.
Sample Framework and Sample Extraction
5.6 Preliminary fieldwork shows that nearly all of the areas are dominated by public sector housing. Having defined the estates to be included in the survey, it is intended to generate a random systematic sample from the Housing Executive's Corporate Data Base.
5.7 In order to allow fieldwork to begin in mid January 1993 (see later) sample extraction would need to begin in early December 1992. Advanced letters to respondents would be sent in phases prior to field work. starting in early January 1993.
5.8 If the 'locale' under consideration includes owner occupied or private rented dwellings, the sample from the Corporate Database will be adjusted downwards. Dwellings of non NIHE tenure will be sampled from the Electoral Register for relevant streets. The balance of the sample across the locale will be maintained in all samples extracted.
Pilot Exercise
5.9 Provision has been made in the budget for a small pilot exercise (20 questionnaires). This will take place in the Suffolk interface area and if agreement on the draft questionnaire can be reached quickly then the pilot can proceed in October 1992. This will be necessary to allow amendments to the made and the questionnaires to be printed in early January 1993.
5.10 All aspects of fieldwork will be carried out by Kodus Research Services, a private research agency. However, control over the fieldwork stage will be maintained by direct involvement in the pilot exercise and interviewer briefing. A system of regular progress/monitoring reports has been agreed with the fieldwork agency. In addition, the company will be provided with coding instructions. As part of the sub-contract, Kodus will supply an SPSS PC+ systems file, preliminary tabular reports and completed questionnaires.
5.11 Preliminary discussions with Kodus show that fieldwork should begin in mid January 1993 and would take an estimated four months to complete. Final reporting from Kodus on the fieldwork is expected by May 1993.
The Questionnaire
5.12 The questionnaire aims to establish a social and demographic profile of each interface area. More importantly however the survey examines inter group attitudes and intergroup contacts. In this respect the questionnaire uses the Social Distance Scale and the Rationalization Scale. These are established scaling techniques and have been used successfully in Northern Ireland in the past.
Reliability and Validity
5.13 Scales are reliable to the extent that repeated measurements made by it under constant conditions will give the same results. Trew for example carried out a number of studies at Queens University on the Social Attitudes Scale into the attitudes of young people in Northern Ireland and found the method a reliable indicator of inter group attitude using test re-test approaches. Validity measures the extent to which a scale is successful in measuring what it set out to measure. In order to ensure the validity of core scales a range of measures have been employed to test inter-community attitudes. Thus the established scaling techniques in social attitude measurement have been backed up by questions and scales tested in other questionnaires such as the Social Attitudes Survey and the social component of the House Condition Survey. Using these sources also allows comparisons to be made between the locale case studies and city wide and Northern Ireland trends.
5.14 The questionnaire examines satisfaction with area, the impact of living near the peace fence on peoples quality of life and on personal movement patterns. At various stages it also assesses what local people would like to see in the area in terms of reducing tension, treatment of the peace line and general improvements to property and environment. Kish based selection procedures will be used to identify the respondent.
Case Study Interviews
5.15 The questionnaire surveys will be backed up by in-depth interviews of key actors in each area. These include for example churchmen, community leaders, representatives of tenant or residents associations and elected representatives. Depending on the nature of initial inquiries an attempt may be made to hold focused groups to explore cross community contact, inter-community attitudes and the possibility-of joint action in the resolution of specific problems.
5.16 Supplementary group discussions will also be held to ascertain the attitudes and behaviour of 11-16 year olds in the case study areas. The discussion will follow the same format as the household questionnaire. Students from the University will be involved at this stage of the project.

6.0 Estimates of the Cost of Peace line to the Public Sector

6.1 This is proving a methodologically difficult although interesting area of enquiry. In order to overcome some of the problems of quantification costs are being investigated under several headings. Both fixed costs and recurring costs will be estimated.
  • Actual Financial Costs including the cost of construction and maintenance of the peace line and cost estimates of damage to property and persons.
  • Opportunity Costs including the rental loss of void dwellings which is something that the Housing Executive have already attempted at estate level.
  • Social Costs including the impact of the peace fence on the quality of life of people who live in these areas. This can be partly estimated from the questionnaire in the case studies.
  • Environmental Costs Previous analysis has shown that the environmental scar of the peaceline areas has a negative impact on local investment potential. The physic surveys which comprise the early phases of the research will attempt to estimate their costs.

7.0 Literature search and theoretical perspectives

7.1 While the research is designed to evaluate and help inform policy development it is not carried out in a theoretical vacuum. In this respect work on the internal conflict model was employed to understand the nature of inter community conflict (analytical stage) and the research will illustrate how this approach has been used by researchers interested in the spatial dimension of conflict. Fruitful research on contact theories will be employed in the second (prescriptive stage) of the research to direct planning options for interface areas.

8.0Timing and Reporting

8.1 The timetable for the research is set out below and is designed to be completed within one calendar ear as set out in the contract specification.
8.2 The physical analysis started in August 1992 and will be completed by November 1992. By this time the case studies will be selected.
8.3 Sampling for the three case studies can then take place in December 1992.
8.4 Before this the questionnaire will be finalised. In order to ensure that the various stages of the research can be completed in sequence and within timetable, the questionnaire has been designed in draft. A pilot exercise is programmed for October/November 1992 to test the scales and measurement concepts in the questionnaire. Final agreement on the questionnaire is needed by early December 1992.
8.5 The fieldwork stage of the survey will take place between mid January to April 1993. Final statistics should be available by May 1993.
8.6 During the fieldwork, in-depth interviews in each of the case study areas will be carried out.
8.7 This time will also be used to finalise the physical surveys, the search for policies and plans linked to peaceline planning, and further literature searches on the background to the problem.
8.8 The literature search is ongoing and has informed the development of this specific research project. The final report will present an analysis in the background to the problems of interface areas in Belfast and will draw on relevant research and literature to set the context for this empirical investigation.
8.9 All surveys will be completed by May 1992. This will allow 3 months for analysis and reporting. Final reporting is scheduled for August 1993.
8.10 Because of the researched design, phased reporting on discrete element of the programme will be possible. It might be possible at each Steering Group Meeting to report on research findings to date, explain progress on all stages of the Research and future directions for the remaining phases of the research.

9.0 Closing

9.1 This paper is a draft outline of project management and implementation. Immediate priorities for project implementation are:
  • Agreement of the project methods and timetable
  • Agreement of the draft questionnaires
  • Preliminary agreement of the timing of the pilot exercise.

Brendan Murtagh
Department of Public Administration and Legal Studies
University of Ulster at Jordanstown

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