Addressing Housing Inequalities in Post-Conflict Belfast A Transformative Justice Approach

Caitriona Mackel (1)
(1) PhD Researcher at the Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland , Ireland


Belfast is a deeply divided and fragmented city not just politically, socially, and economically but physically. It is a city shaped by its history, its experiences of violent conflict and its post-conflict transition. A collage of so-called peace walls and interface areas segregate neighbourhoods across the city creating some of the most socially and economically deprived areas where inequalities are significantly exacerbated by the tension and sectarianism that segregation reinforces. Despite the peace process, historical and new inequalities in the provision and allocation of social housing affect many vulnerable individuals and communities resulting in unequal access to adequate housing; overcrowding; housing stress; homelessness; higher waiting lists and longer waiting times. The challenge of navigating housing in a politically and physically divided city has resulted in failed opportunities to shape policies and procedures to address existing, persistent, and new housing inequalities.

Addressing the legacy of violence and human rights violations is central to building sustainable peace in transitioning societies. If we acknowledge that socio-economic inequalities are not only a consequence of violent conflict but also a root cause, then we must also acknowledge that correcting these inequalities is an essential component of post-conflict policy. Transitional justice often overlooks violations of socio-economic rights and the impact of these on victims and wider society. A growing body of literature suggests transformative justice expands the traditional ‘toolkit’ to include measures, not typically employed in transitional justice, to confront violations of socio-economic rights, address the needs of victims and assist in societal transformation more effectively. Under a transformative justice approach, my research explores how affirmative action and the role of social movements, such as the Right to the City, could be used to address housing inequalities in post-conflict Belfast. In doing so we could look to the future as well as deal with the past.

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Caitriona Mackel
mac[email protected] (Primary Contact)
Mackel, C. (2023). Addressing Housing Inequalities in Post-Conflict Belfast A Transformative Justice Approach. Environmental Science & Sustainable Development, 8(3), 09–18.

Article Details

Received 2023-03-01
Accepted 2023-03-30
Published 2023-03-31