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New peace bridge is symbol of hope in ‘stroke city’

by Mark Simpson
from BBC

The city with two names now has three bridges.  At a cost of £14.6m, the new ‘peace bridge’ in Londonderry/Derry is the latest attempt to bring Protestants and Catholics closer together.  At the moment, most Protestants live on the east bank of the River Foyle, most Catholics live on the west bank. Some are reluctant to cross to the other side.

The idea is to try to bridge the gap.

The new bridge is 312 metres long – around the same length as two and a half football pitches. It is s-shaped, and from above it looks like a massive steel snake.  It is designed for pedestrians and cyclists, and stretches from Guildhall Square on the west bank to Ebrington on the east bank.  The question is – how many people will use it?

The past week in Northern Ireland has shown that sectarian tension is still simmering in a number of areas. It is not just a problem in east Belfast where two nights of rioting took place.

Many Catholics and Protestants still live largely separate lives. They live in different streets, study at different schools, play different sports, go to different bars and, of course, attend different churches.  In Londonderry/Derry – sometimes referred to as stroke city – the level of sectarianism is not as bad as it used to be.  The hope is that the new bridge will help to improve relations even further among its 100,000 residents.

That is certainly the view of the man who is in charge of keeping the peace in the city, Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin. He said:”I was here in the 1980s as a police officer for six years – it is a fundamentally different place now.  “It is a place of hope, it is a place of increasing prosperity and it’s a place where the people of the city want peace…

Click here to read the full article

Click here to watch a video about the opening of the peace bridge

July 2nd, 2011 at 3:47 pm