With the establishment of the state of Northern Ireland, the unionist government under Lord Londonderry attempted to create a singular education system. However, this was met with significant opposition by both Catholic and Protestant churches, and the initiative failed. Instead, the Protestant churches agreed to transfer their primary schools to state control in exchange for full funding of both running and capital expenditure, while the Catholic Church was also granted full funding of the running expenditure of its primary schools and was allowed to maintain formal ownership and control provided it raised a proportion of capital expenditure. (Boyle p. 40) (The Catholic maintained system was subsequently fully publicly funded.) The result is what we now know as Northern Ireland’s segregated education system.
According to the CAIN (Conflict Archive in the Internet) website, a peace line or peace wall are “physical barriers between the Protestant/Loyalist community and the Catholic/Nationalist community in certain areas in Northern Ireland”.
These walls are usually constructed of concrete, stone and/or steel, and can be over six meters tall. Some even have gates in them that allow passage during daytime and are closed at night. Accompanying the creation of these interfaces were interface community groups: those residents who lived alongside the walls. Although interfaces are widely acknowledged as features of most urban areas across Northern Ireland, it is also important to recognize that segregation is a feature of life in all parts of the country, including rural communities.