Duncairn Gardens and Limestone Road had previously been renowned for being the two most contentious interfaces in Northern Ireland. History confirms that public disorder, bomb/gun attacks and murders/maiming were all to prevalent and seen as the "norm" for many people in both communities. Understandably there was no trust, confidence or desire to use dialogue as a means of addressing the many sectarian related problems associated with these interface areas. Following the ceasefires, tensions began to reduce in both communities and tentative contact between communities began. As a result of growing trust and confidence between community representatives a range of interface projects and programmes were developed in partnership with the PSNI and a range of statutory agencies. The impact of this work has been absolutely remarkable resulting in a significant reduction in interface violence and incidents. Scroll down or click a link below for details!         


Duncairn Community Partnership is a new cross-community partnership built on respect, trust and equality between a number of community groups in the Duncairn area of Lower North Belfast.
The partnership involves a number of community groups including:
  • North Belfast Community Development & Transition Group
  • Intercomm
  • Groundwork
  • North Belfast Interface Network
  • Tigers Bay Concerned Residents Group
  • Newington Residents Group
  • North Belfast Community Bridges Project

This project hopes to facilitate talks between divided neighbours, improve community relations, and create the conditions for those residents most impacted upon by interface barriers and fences to air any concerns they may have in relation to the security, improving or removing these barriers.

We have now created a new spirit of co-operation based along real, achievable goals which will enhance the lives of all residents and families in the Duncairn area. Dialogue aimed at improving community cohesion and confidence is an integral element of this initiative, as will engagement with those who may not have previously participated in community relations activities.  Nothing can change without consultation with local residents most affected by interface barriers and fences, and to this end, community consultation will shortly begin on a range of sites across the Duncairn area of lower north Belfast.

The project will allow residents to access computer software to help visualise how their area could look without the imposing peace lines. They can also consider ways of softening the image of barriers and transforming derelict sites into cross-community hubs.

A new mutual shared space facility, proposed for a site on the Duncairn Gardens peace line, will also form part of the consultation process. 

Also involved and providing a core role to the partnership will be a number of relevant statutory agencies including the DOJ, Housing Executive, DSD, BRO, BCC, DRD and the PSNI.  An accountable reference group working alongside community partners will hopefully provide advice, resources, budgeting and planning to meet any community expectations raised by our communities as a result of our consultations and associated work plans.  

This project should not frighten or offend anyone. 

This project is not about making territorial claims or making communities feel pressured into making changes.  

It is not about redrawing existing boundaries. Rather it is about empowering communities through consultation and dialogue, and where appropriate, and with the agreement of local residents, making small steps towards positive change.


Alexandra Park is the only public park that has a 'peaceline' splitting it in two. The 'Peaceline' was erected on the first day of the IRA ceasefire in August 1994 and was designed to keep rival gangs of Catholic and Protestant young people from engaging in rioting and fighting. 

Since October 2008, Groundwork NI has been engaging with various local community groups including Tigers Bay & Mountcollyer Policing and Community Safety Partnership, Intercomm, NBIN, Tigers Bay Concerned Residents Group, NBCD&TG and Newington Res Association with the aim of improving community relations and encouraging cross-community dialogue. Community relations have now improved to the point that agreement was reached to create and launch a new ‘peace gate’ within the peace wall that cuts through Alexandra Park in order to create a shared neutral space for a community divided by sectarianism.

Belfast City Council and the PSNI have also played a significant role in this SEUPB funded Peace III initiative. The opening of the peace gate is a first step towards bringing both communities together through a recreational space and it is hoped this will have a direct and positive impact on the daily lives of people who live within the area of the park. 

The new gate is open from 09:00 to 15:00 on weekdays for a three-month period. The opening times will then be reviewed with full consultation.

Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford said it was an "important day for Northern Ireland.  On this occasion, the people of the Alexandra Park area have shown great courage to take the first step and open up an interface barrier that has been a symbol of division and segregation for so long”

Sam Cochrane, a volunteer interface worker and member of the policing and community safety partnership, paid tribute to Groundwork NI and a range of cross community groups and representatives who spent a significant amount of time delivering this initiative.


One of the most explosive interfaces in North Belfast has been transformed by a community relations initiative developed following threats to local businesses. 

Rioting, vandalism and theft were at one time a daily occurrence at the Cityside retail park. As a result, local businesses were threatened with closure caused by a significant drop in customers visiting this shopping mall

At its height in 2007 there were 66 nights of sustained violence over a three-month period leaving people from both communities and beyond, afraid to access this complex. The PSNI, North Belfast Community Development & Transition Group, North Belfast Interface Network and Intercomm developed a cross community partnership back in 2008 as a response to address this problem and recently launched a report, compiled by the Institute of Conflict Research, on the Cityside Initiative.

This initiative has been hailed by politicians, businesses, the PSNI and community leaders as a blueprint for tackling sectarian hotspots. Not only have community relations improved and sectarian violence significantly reduced, but business is booming at the retail park. Seven new retail outlets opened last year and customer numbers have increased dramatically. Car parking space is now a significant problem, with spaces at a premium during busy periods. 

Speaking at the launch, DSD Minister and North Belfast MLA, Nelson McCausland praised and welcomed the initiative as a “rare good news story about an interface”


Delaware Shared Future Housing Scheme is a cross community partnership between Newington and Filor Housing Associations, Newington Residents Association, Tigers Bay Concerned Residents Group and North Belfast Community Development & Transition Group.  

Formerly known as the Old Shirt Factory, this building situated on the Limestone Road opposite the Halidays Road entrance to Tigers Bay, running adjacent to Parkside and close to the Newington community, had badly deteriorated and was at the centre of severe and volatile interface violence that resulted in the need for five  structurally imposing cctv cameras to be located in front of this building, which are still present today. 

This building was purchased by a private developer who turned the derelict mill into apartments, which due to their interface location, he was unable to sell privately. There followed a protracted period of consultation between both communities resulting in the formation of a cross-community partnership to support Newington and Filor Housing Associations, who, with financial assistance from DSD purchased this development. The Housing Associations worked in partnership with the cross community partnership to develop a shared future social housing project. This ensured these properties would be allocated on a cross community basis with all tenants agreeing to support principles of a shared housing scheme similar to those supported by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. 

This is not only a first for North Belfast, but also a significant and remarkable example of a successful shared future housing scheme situated in the heart of what was once known as the most volatile interface in North Belfast.  Thanks to the commitment and work carried out by the cross community partnership, a site viewed by both communities  as nothing more than a volatile and dangerous interface flashpoint, has been transformed therefore contributing to the regeneration of this once contested space. 

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