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Peace Walls in Northern Ireland: developing baseline indicators

Research overview

The Northern Ireland Executive aims to remove all peace walls by 2023, but research has shown that 69% of residents living near these walls believe they are still necessary. This research aims to compare these areas with less deprived areas in Northern Ireland and produce baseline indicators related to those living closest to the walls.


Public benefit

About 100 peace walls still exist in Northern Ireland. They have come to symbolise the ongoing gulf between the aspirations of the peace process and its implementation. The research will help to inform policy-makers, stakeholders and others involved in the peace walls initiative and produce evidence-based policy briefs to encourage wider participation and consultation in policy development.


Government departments

NI census data and other data on deprivation, health and death rates.


More about the project

Peace walls are physical structures separating communities in Northern Ireland in interface areas. The first was constructed 1969 and despite the more recent successes of the peace process, such segregation still forms part of the daily reality for large parts of Northern Ireland. About 100 of these walls and barriers remain in place (though estimates on this number vary), and they have come to symbolise the ongoing gulf between the aspirations of the peace process and the implementation of peace in practice. It is against this backdrop that our project takes place.

The rationale for the project has been driven by the Northern Ireland Executive’s recently published community relations strategy document, Together: Building a United Community (May 2013), which sets itself an ambitious target of removing all peace walls by 2023. However, given that previous research has shown that 69% of residents living in close proximity to these walls believe they are still necessary, much work would need to be undertaken with these communities for the NI Executive to be able to achieve its policy objective.

The thrust of this research project is to produce a report (and subsequent academic papers and presentations) that will highlight the socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the areas designated as proximate to the peace walls. This will inevitably entail comparison with less deprived areas, thus adding to the more general debate on social inequalities. We will establish a series of baseline indicators related to those living in closest proximity to the walls, engage with senior policy-makers and practitioners connected to the NI Executive's Peace Walls Implementation Strategy and other stakeholders who have been tasked with progressing the implementation of the peace walls initiative over the next 10 years. We will also lead a series of roundtable workshops with academics and senior civil servants, establish a database which brings together relevant data on interface areas, and produce a number of evidence-based policy briefs designed to encourage wider participation and consultation in policy development.


Date Approved

June 2015


Project Team

Cathy Gormley-Heenan (Ulster University, Principal investigator)

Jonny Byrne (Ulster University, co-investigator)

Duncan Morrow (Ulster University, co-investigator)

Brendan Sturgeon (Ulster University, co-investigator)

Martina Casey (Ulster University, co-investigator)

Michael Rosato (Ulster University, co-investigator)

Sally Cook (Ulster University, co-investigator)

Johanna McCaughey (Department of Justice, co-investigator)


Page last updated: 24/10/2017