A North Belfast interface barrier that has been in place for over 20 years is to open for the first time next week. The barrier at Newington Street was put in place soon after the death of Terry McDaid in 1988. The father-of-two was shot dead in May of that year by loyalist gunmen as he sat with his mother, father, wife and two daughters.

From Monday (February 27) the barrier will reopen between 7am and 3.30pm to help ease traffic flow.

The opening of the gate will help reduce heavy traffic and is designed to improve safety for children going to and from Holy Family Primary School.

“The safety of the children is what is most important here and this is a step in the right direction,” said Kate Clarke from the North Belfast Interface Network.

“This is a pilot scheme for three months and if it is successful we are hopeful that a one-way system can be put in place to further help traffic flow.”

She said that surveys carried out show that local residents are supportive of the barrier being opened.

Last September when he confirmed plans for its reopening, Justice Minister David Ford said is was sign of real progress that the residents are comfortable with it being opened.  “I commend the work done by local community representatives and other agencies, through the Interface Working Group, to bring about this change,” he said.