Our new report “No Longer Neighbours” – The Impact of Violence on Land, Housing and Redress in the Northern Ireland Conflict is written by the project team (Moffett, Lawther and Hearty) and colleagues Andrew Godden and Robin Hickey.
Land, housing and identity have a complex relationship in Northern Ireland. This report intends to untangle some of these intertwined strands that as a case study reflects an individualised redress process during ongoing violence that continues to replicate the long history of segregation and social mistrust. While there has been some recent research on the paucity of attention to displacement in transitional justice debates to deal with the legacy of the Troubles/conflict in and around Northern Ireland, it perhaps overlooks the institutions that were put in place to resolve the housing needs of those displacement, but also reproduced segregation. In addition, although there were large-scale attacks on communities in the early years of the Troubles that saw hundreds and thousands of families flee their homes, the more consistent displacement of people from their homes has come from intimidation that continues to this day. Added to this, are the urban and rural dimensions of sectarian intimidation and violence, where families in the countryside did not live in close-quarters housing, but isolated and along the border making them vulnerable to attack and ambush. This is compounded by the continuing attacks against community halls and churches, which are aimed at targeting, terrorising and disrupting communal and cultural life of each community. In dealing with the legacy of the Troubles/conflict in and around Northern Ireland attention has been on those bereaved and injured, which has overlooked the wider impact of violence on communities and Northern Ireland society. As such the everyday violence that continues to pervade Northern Ireland raises difficult issues in resolving how we live together as neighbours, the role of identity in demarcating space and belonging. The report begins by discussing the phenomenon of displacement and how violence and threats through intimidation continue to cause families to flee their homes in Northern Ireland.
This report is based on research funded by the World Bank, as part of its Flagship Study on Land, Conflict and Inclusion and is part of the AHRC funded ‘Reparations, Responsibility and Victimhood in Transitional Societies’ project. The work represents the findings of the project team and not the World Bank. It involved fieldwork conducted in Northern Ireland between October 2019 to February 2020, involving six focus groups along the border and eight interviews with practitioners and victims in Derry/Londonderry and Belfast. In total some 57 individuals were engaged with. While such data collection is not intended to be representative, we hoped to capture some of the general sentiments of displacement, the impact of violence on land tenure, housing and redress schemes during and after the Troubles/conflict in and around Northern Ireland. Moreover, we focused on rural areas to provide a more balanced perspective of the impact of displacement outside of urban centres, where there is already a substantive body of literature and research, which we drew upon. This qualitative research was complemented by the collection of quantitative data on displacement and compensation during the Troubles/conflict held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, along with archival newspaper searches, facilitated by the political collection held in the Linenhall Library.