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Belfast 'Peace Wall' still separates Catholics, Protestants

Cathal Mcnaughton / Reuters

A section of the 'Peace Wall' that divides Catholic and Protestant communities runs along Alliance Avenue, north Belfast on Nov. 6.

Cathal Mcnaughton / Reuters

William Boyd, Protestant, poses for a picture at the side of his house in Cluan Place in east Belfast on Oct 27. When asked would he like to see the 'Peace Wall' that divides Catholic and Protestant communities taken down, Boyd replied, "It should be left the way it is. Why would they want to pull down these walls?"

Cathal Mcnaughton / Reuters

A section of the 'Peace Wall' that divides Catholic and Protestant communities runs along Cupar Way in west Belfast.

A so-called 'Peace Wall' has separated Catholic and Protestant communities in Belfast since 1969. The barriers were built following the Northern Ireland riots and the start of the conflict that is known as "The Troubles." They were built as temporary structures meant to last only six months, but they have multiplied over the years, from 18 in the early 1990s to 40 today and in total they now stretch over 13 miles.   

Photographer Cathal McNaughton photographed sections of the wall and gained rare access to communities living on either side. In interviews with the residents he found that despite living in houses effectively caged in by a towering 20 foot high wall, these people do not want the wall to be taken down.

They live in fortress-like houses surrounded by metal fencing and barricades with an ever present symbol of their troubled past looming overhead. But to these communities - who live under the fear of attack every day - the wall is a necessary form of protection that they would not live without.

Read McNaughton's blog, 'A barrier to peace' at reuters.com.

Jean McAnoy, Roman Catholic, a care worker, poses for a picture in the back garden of her home in Bombay Street, west Belfast on Oct. 18. When asked would she like to see the 'Peace Wall' taken down, Foster replied, ""No way. I would like it kept the way it is."

Sonya Foster, Protestant, a care worker, poses for a picture in the back garden of her home in the Glenbryn area of Belfast on Oct. 27. When asked would she like to see the peace wall that divides Catholic and Protestant communities taken down, Foster replied, "Not now but in the future maybe. It would be nice to see it down."

Stephen McGarry, Roman Catholic, poses for a picture in the back garden of his home on Clonard Street in west Belfast on Oct. 17. When asked would he like to see the Peace Wall taken down, McGarry replied, "It never should be taken down. But mum would love to see holes in it to let the light through."

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