Communities unite to form human chain at peace wall to mark accord’s anniversary

People from across Northern Ireland’s divided communities have come together at one of the region’s most notorious peace walls to mark the anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

Northumberland Street in west Belfast connects the predominantly Catholic and nationalist Falls Road with the mainly Protestant and unionist Shankill Road.

However, it remains divided 25 years after the historic peace accord with two sets of steel gates which are locked at night for security reasons.

On Friday lunch time the former no-man’s land was filled with people forming a human chain spanning the gates.

Those attending included West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, Lord Mayor Tina Black and Alliance Party councillor Michael Long.

The event was organised by Pastor Jack McKee, whose New Life City Church stands between the two gates.

He said while the agreement has not been perfect, they wanted to mark the fact that the last 25 years were better than the previous 25 years.

Good Friday Agreement 25th Anniversary
Pastor Jack McKee (Liam McBurney/PA).

“As we’re singing and praying today, our prayers are beyond this day and that we will see an end to the violence.

“While the peace agreement is not perfect, it’s better than what it was, and our hope now is beyond today, that things will get even better, and the next 25 years will be even better for our children and our children’s children.”

Mr Maskey described the scene as “very poignant”.

“This is the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it’s great to see, on the middle of a peaceline, people coming together from all sides of our community to celebrate what has been achieved over the last 25 years, but also look forward to the next 25 years and try and make an even more positive society – today is a step in the right direction for that,” he said.

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