Dominic Bryan, S. J. Connolly and John Nagle

The 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement contained little direct reference to public space, partly because the creation of the Parades Commission had already dealt with one central issue. However, it created a legal and institutional framework within which local authorities were required to address the broader question of shared space. This was the background to a long series of decisions on the flying of flags on official buildings, culminating in the mass loyalist protests of 2012–13. The same process led to the negotiated admission of republican and nationalist events to the city centre, while at the same time the Orange Order found itself struggling to reclaim the legitimacy it had once enjoyed without question.

in Civic identity and public space
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Public space – past lessons and future strategies
Dominic Bryan, S. J. Connolly and John Nagle

The municipal elite of Victorian and Edwardian Belfast, like their counterparts in other growing cities, sought to cope with the rapidly expanding industrial city for which they were responsible by promoting a sense of civic pride, and by developing a new policy of open but conditional access to public space. Both strategies were partly undermined, in the case of Belfast, by a pervasive religious and political sectionalism. Today policy makers pursue parallel goals, in the context of new ideas of human rights and the acceptance of diversity. Attempts to promote a shared civic identity have had some success, but the long-term future remains unclear. The alternative would be partition, continuing to close off the realisation in Belfast of the full potential of modern urban living.

in Civic identity and public space