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'movable' peaceline; City interface gets retractable fence.

Byline: MAURICE FITZMAURICE

A NEW barrier is to be put up at a sectarian interface - but it can be retracted if there's no trouble.

The fence will be erected in the grounds of St Matthew's Church in East Belfast to protect homes in the Short Strand and on the Lower Newtownards Road.

Justice Minister David Ford said it is not a peace wall and believes it will be retracted for most of the year.

The installation of the new security measure at the interface between the nationalist Short Strand and loyalist Newtownards Road areas comes at a time when the Executive has publicly committed to removing permanent barriers separating the communities within 10 years. The area around St Matthew's has been the scene of violent clashes in recent years, with residents on both sides claiming they live in fear of attack from missiles. Mr Ford said the net was being installed at the INTERFACE St request of local people. He added: "My department has been working with the community in East Belfast looking at measures which would assist in reducing recent tensions in the area.

"The structure has been designed to support netting in such a way that it can be retracted when not required.

"The default position will be that it will remain open and indeed I envisage that this will be the case for the majority of the year.

"When closed, it will act as a barrier to projectiles thrown from either side.

Matthew's Tommy McNulty, a pensioner who lives next door to St Matthew's at Strand Walk said he welcomes the new barrier.

He added: "Well if it stops the bottles and the stones that come over every week I'm for it. We're only in the news when there's riots, but it's the golf balls and stones every day that makes it hard. The only concern I have is who is going to decide when it's retracted or not."

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INTERFACE St Matthew's
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 9, 2013
Words:327
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