THE footage of the New Year’s Eve celebration had by more than a few Divis inhabitants has become a talking point.  Many have called them scumbag bastards and others said it’s a disgrace.  Some say the problem with the youth is that there’s no control over them.  Nobody has been held to account for the way Divis has become.

Shop keeper on McDonnell Street, Belfast  Pic Credit: Belfast Telegraph
Shop keeper on McDonnell Street, Belfast
Pic Credit: Belfast Telegraph

This area was the creation of the west.  At one time it was a peaceful, happy place to live.  There was pride in the streets.  It had a couple of anti-social families who are still ruling the roost today – but they were manageable.  When the troubles erupted, the community became stronger.  The Brits brought the term ‘Lower Falls’ and it has been retained by us.  When residents moved ‘up the road’, Divis became the afterbirth – no longer serving a purpose and left to rot.

As West Belfast has expanded and we’ve settled into our different estates, we have buried our heads in the sand.  We look down on Divis with pity because our own streets aren’t as socially inept as theirs.  As long as this type of destruction isn’t happening on our own doorsteps, we don’t care.  It’s a bad attitude to have, but how many of us in housing distress would refuse to live there?

A group og young males destroy a car in broad daylight Pic credit: DHLA member's public Facebook page
A group of young males destroy a car in broad daylight
Pic credit: DHLA member’s public Facebook page

Mafia families

What happened those manageable problem families?  The DHLA didn’t appear from nowhere.  With little interest from social services, the mafia families have gone forth and multiplied – giving birth to a bunch of cretins.

Young children observe an abandoned car on the Falls Road Pic credit: DHLA West Belfast google image search
Young children observe an abandoned car on the Falls Road
Pic credit: DHLA West Belfast Google image search

Statutory Agencies

Social Services, Youth Justice and the PSNI need to take the lead, a long term robust plan needs to be drawn up and implemented.  They have the powers to remove minors from homes that are not providing them with a reasonable outlook on life.   Operation Echinus needs to earn its worth, those parading their behaviour on social media should be arrested and made an example of in the courts.

Locals have taken matters into their own hands.  A new social media page naming and shaming the DHLA (Divis Hoods Liberation Army) has emerged.  The creators come across as just as illiterate as the DHLA themselves.

Bishop Cahal Daly blesses 'The Flats' in 1988  Pic Credit: Pacemaker (as if you didn't already know)
Bishop Cahal Daly blesses ‘The Flats’ in 1988
Pic Credit: Pacemaker (as if you didn’t already know)

Religion & Politics

Those inside the spires of St Peter’s must share some of the blame for how this community turned out.  During the days of a packed cathedral, they told parishioners to keep having children, to outbreed the Protestants.  Not taking into consideration the size and condition of their homes, never mind lack of employment.

Under influence from the Tories and Nationalist politicians in 1966, the religious orders told the community to move into the newly built Divis Flats – they said high rise living was the way forward.  But instead, a giant ghetto was born – resulting in crime and social deprivation.  By 1982, a European Union report described it as ‘the worst of its kind.’

Although the flats have been knocked down and replaced with decent houses, decent people are the minority.  But some are trying to engage with those only interested in destruction.

Local resident wants to engage with hoods Article credit: Belfast Media Group
Local resident wants to engage with hoods
Article credit: Belfast Media Group

The Troubles

Some say it’s the PIRA’s fault for teaching the hoods how to hijack and burn vehicles.  But, everyone knows this area is known as ‘the planet of the Irps’.  The PIRA kept out of the INLA’s business. Volunteers within the Sticks, Provies and Irps of the lower whack should hold their heads in shame.  If they feuded less and put more time into making their area a better place to live, we wouldn’t have had that carry on on New Years Eve.

In an effort to bring normality to Divis, Sinn Fein has secured funding from Belfast City Council.  They want to paint more murals and make the area look nice.  The money will go towards classes in personal development.  But some are seeing it as putting a sticking plaster over a gangrenous wound.  This £100K will not last and when it runs out, those in receipt of it will lose interest.

The upgrade of Dunville Park has had a remarkable impact on the aesthetics of the area.  Daytime drinkers no longer feel welcome.  Those involved in its restoration should be commended.

More funding will be coming in the form of culture.  But Divis has presented itself as the thorn in the side of the Gaeltacht Quarter.  The DHLA may not know what ‘Ná cac sa nead’ means, but they are fluent in the language of Clarkson, May et al.

The DHLA doesn’t need bilingual street signage or murals to change their ways.  They need a centre for education on their doorstep and financial incentives to get out of bed in the morning.  They have no hope and no future.  That’s why they don’t care what people think of them, they couldn’t care less if they were killed by a stolen car being driven by their mates.  Even the afterlife, if it exists would be better than living in Divis.

Follow up news report from UTV

Follow up news report from BBCNI

Boys aged 12, 14 questioned (UTV)

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