Northern Ireland peace walls set to be demolished by 2023

There are almost 100 such barriers stretching over 21 kilometres

Northern Ireland peace walls set to be demolished by 2023

One of the many murals painted on terrace end walls in the city of Belfast. This depicts a woman (representing Ireland) and the dove of peace | Image: MCCULLOU / PA Archive/Press Association Images

A junior minister in Northern Ireland's Stormont Executive says peace walls in the region will be gone by 2023.

Megan Fearon highlighted a commitment to removing "interface barriers and structures of division" as she addressed an audience at the New Lodge Community Festival.

The event included a panel discussion around the removal of peace walls.

Minister Fearon said: “Through its Together Building a United Community strategy, the Executive is committed to reduce and remove all interface barriers by 2023."

"By removing a peace wall we open a door to a new shared space and I believe we should be ambitious in our efforts."

"Reconciliation has been hampered by physical divisions so to help build a truly shared, united and reconciled community, we need to put in place the conditions and circumstances to remove these structures."

"It takes courage to engage on such difficult issues, but the courage that many in the community have shown, and continue to show on a daily basis, can, and will change our society for the better. Progress is being made," she added.

Peace walls are physical barriers dividing communities in areas of high sectarian tensions.

They are one of the most visual remaining symbols of division in Northern Ireland.

There are almost 100 such barriers - mainly in Belfast - stretching over 21 kilometres in total.

In January 2012, the International Fund for Ireland, established by the Irish and British governments, announced financial assistance to deliver a range of measures within and between communities.

This included a process to create conditions whereby residents would feel safe to commence discussions about the removal of peace walls.