In an effort to send out a positive message and clear some of its troubled past, 11 of the 16 Derry City gates which are interspersed along the historic walls are in the process of being taken down.
Originally built from 1613-1618 by the Irish Society as defences for early 17th-century settlers from England and Scotland, the walls became inaccessible in the 1960s because of blockades of screens, gates and fences which were put up at interface areas by the security forces. The gates were erected along the walls in an effort to prevent sectarian attacks during the Troubles
In 2009, the Derry City Council hired a private security firm to close the gates during the nighttime as the Northern Ireland police force said that the threat from dissident republicans made the job too dangerous. The security firm will continue to open and close the remaining gates.
Minister for Justice David Ford has said that, “For tourists and residents alike, I very much welcome the fact that we have been able to remove a number of the security gates that are a blight on these historic walls,” the Irish News reports, "The walls can now be enjoyed without the imposing structures that point to our past rather than our future."
The removal of the gates is also welcomed by the mayor of Derry, Kevin Campbell, who said that he is fully supportive of the decision, writes the Irish News:
“I fully support any initiative that makes the city’s historic walls more accessible,” he said. “This development really shows how Derry is moving forward and availing of the unique opportunity that the City of Culture title has given us to showcase our city, its assets and its people, and I am delighted that we can celebrate the walls as a shared space.”