The Bartlett School of Architecture


Fifty Years of Northern Irish Peacewalls Marked by Bartlett Associate Professor

5 July 2019

James O’Leary has organised an international conference, exhibition and series of events in Belfast to mark 50 years since the construction of the first peacewall in Northern Ireland

Belfast Peacewalls, 2019. Photos ©James O’Leary

Organised by Associate Professor James O’Leary, Programme Director of Situated Practice MA, Peacewalls 50 will bring local residents, policy makers and academics together to share ideas and provoke discussion about the future of the peacewalls and the interface areas adjacent to them. Prevalent in Belfast – there are over 90 documented walls and barriers – the Northern Ireland Executive policy is to remove all peacewalls by 2023.

In an era when wall building is again becoming acceptable as a short-term solution to address difficult issues, the objective of Peacewalls 50 is to think through the contentious pasts and possible futures of the Northern Ireland peacewalls.

James O’Leary

The conference and exhibition will address several important questions:

  • In 2019, are the peacewalls still a required security measure?
  • How effective or detrimental have the peacewalls been in constructing the peace in Northern Ireland?
  • What is the impact of the peacewalls into ongoing communal segregation and division in Northern Ireland?
  • What do the peacewalls communicate to the public in relation to the current phase of the Northern Ireland peace process?
  • How can we underpin the peace process by creating conditions where interface communities are content to proceed with the physical transformation and ultimate removal of peacewalls in their area?

Peacewalls 50 is the conclusion of three years of research documenting the history and condition of the Belfast Peacewalls, which is documented in the Peacewall Archive website.

Peacewalls 50 programme:

WALK: 50 years of the Falls-Shankill Peaceline 
Tuesday 10 September 2019, 16:30
Meet at the base of Divis Tower, Divis Street, Belfast BT12 4QA
CONFERENCE: PEACEWALLS 50 International Conference 
Saturday 14 September 2019, 09:30 – 17:30
Conor Lecture Theatre, Ulster University, 25-51 York Street, Belfast BT15 1ED
WORKSHOPS: Future Interfaces
23 September – 27 September 2019
PS² Project Space, Spencer House, 71 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FE
EXHIBITION: Peacewall Archive
30 September – 05 October 2019
PS², Spencer House, 71 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FE
LECTURE: 50 Years of Belfast Peacewalls
Thursday 04 October 2019, 13:00
Linen Hall Library Lecture Hall
17 Donegall Square North, Belfast BT1 5GB

More information

These events are organised by James O’Leary with support from:

Find out more

Image: Belfast Peacewalls, 2019. Photos ©James O’Leary