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Fear, Mobility and Living in the Ardoyne and Upper Ardoyne Communities - Executive Summary

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Text: Pete Shirlow ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna
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Fear, Mobility and Living in the Ardoyne
and Upper Ardoyne Communities

A report by the
Mapping the Spaces of Fear Research Team (2000)
at the University of Ulster

Jointly supported by the North Belfast Partnership Board
and the ESRC (Violence Research Programme)


[see also text of main report]

Executive Summary

Despite five years of relative peace and the continual decline in the level of violence between Ardoyne and Upper Ardoyne it would appear that social relations between the two communities have not significantly improved. Indeed, it could be interpreted that the divisions, which exist between the two communities, which are due to fear and the contestation over housing, are continually reproduced in a climate of apprehension, low inter-community contact and the complex use of ‘avoidance’ strategies. In more general terms it would appear that the growth in ‘normality ‘ as indicated in the reconstruction of the city centre and the augmentation in the city’s nightlife and arenas of consumption has had little affect upon living in this particular interfaced area. Thus it could be cautiously argued that the present ‘peace process’ has not significantly altered the social relationships which existed prior to 1994. Of course this is not unsurprising given the immediacy, potency and impact of a long attritional conflict.

The work contained within this report is based upon a survey on mobility between Ardoyne and Upper Ardoyne. Main observations include the following:

  • The majority of people living in Ardoyne and Upper Ardoyne undertake avoidance strategies which are influenced by fear
  • Around a quarter of the people surveyed in each study area have moved to their present homes either due to insecurity or intimidation whilst living in other areas
  • The number of people who did and presently do work in mixed workplaces has fallen from 75% to 33%
  • 68% or respondents in Ardoyne compared to 37.5% in Upper Ardoyne stated that their job seeking activities are limited by fear
  • The community in Upper Ardoyne is more conscious of living in an interfaced area than is the case in Ardoyne. In comparison, the community in Ardoyne feels more besieged in relation to the wider geography of Belfast
  • In terms of mobility respondents in Ardoyne rarely use the public bus services due to the threat of attack or being recognised whilst travelling through Protestant/Unionist areas
  • 45% of respondents in Ardoyne compared to 34.1% from Upper Ardoyne have been intimidated within the workplace due to their religious affiliation
  • Only 1 in 5 respondents from Upper Ardoyne shop within the Ardoyne area. The majority of those who do are elderly and do not own cars. In terms of weekly shopping respondents from both areas generally avail of shopping centres in either Catholic/Nationalist or Protestant/Unionist areas. In sum, 76% of respondents in Ardoyne compared to 81.1% in Upper Ardoyne would not shop in places dominated by the other religious/ethnic group
  • Although, two thirds of respondents socialise in mixed places they do so less frequently than socialising in places dominated by the same ethno-religious group
  • Women are more fearful than men when walking through their local area at night. The majority of people are afraid of walking through their community at night during the marching season
  • Only 17% of men and 3.8% of women would walk through an area dominated by the other religion/ethnic group at night. In upper Ardoyne 60% of respondents compared to 41% from Ardoyne feel threatened when walking through their respective communities at night. Only 11.4% of respondents in Ardoyne compared to 11.4% in Upper Ardoyne would ravel through an area dominated by the other religion.
  • Respondents in Ardoyne are 3 times more likely to have been physically attacked outside of their community. Whereas, respondents in Upper Ardoyne are twice as likely to have been physically attacked within their own community. 1 in 10 respondents in Ardoyne compared to 1 in 100 in Upper Ardoyne have been victims of physical attack by the security forces.

  • Acknowledgements

    The work undertaken in the Upper Ardoyne and Ardoyne areas would have been impossible without the assistance of people who work, live or who are linked to the area. In many ways Michelle and I were conscious when working on this project that we were outsiders, and as such the respect and warmth that was accorded to us was well received.

    In particular, thanks goes to the North Belfast Partnership Board and the ESRC (VRP) for jointly funding this project. Rab McCallum and Michael Atcheson (Community Bridges Programme/CDC) and Chris O’Halloran (Belfast Interface Project) are also thanked for assistance and ideas. Collete Bradley and her colleagues in the Ardoyne Community Focus Group and John Nelson, Ann Bill and others from the Concorde Centre are each thank for their contribution, design and implementation of the survey.

    Additional Copies

    Anybody who would like a copy of this report or who would like additional information about this work should contact Dr Pete Shirlow in any of the following ways:

    By Post:

    School of Environmental Studies
    University of Ulster, Coleraine
    Cromore Road,
    BT 52

    By Phone or Email:

    Phone: (028) 7032 4687

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