Walls separating Protestant and Catholic communities in parts of Northern Ireland are to come down within the next 10 years, ministers pledged on Thursday.

Almost 60 walls known as peace lines are to be dismantled as part of a new political initiative to ease sectarian tensions. The walls, fences and gates were built in areas of sectarian tension in Belfast, Londonderry and Portadown. 

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness revealed their strategy at Stormont on Thursday.

Robinson said: "This is probably the most ambitious set of proposals that have ever been brought forward in terms of a shared future.

"I believe it really will take us into a new era in terms of how we move forward as a united society."

Deputy FM Martin McGuinness added: "This is a decisive step-change where we can move forward with a comprehensive programme bringing communities together in an inclusive and integrated way.

"We are not prepared to sit back and be paralyzed, we are prepared to continue to move forward.

"The nettle has to be grasped, it is ridiculous that we have become a successful peace process yet those issues have not yet been resolved."

Some of the walls are up to  5.5 meters high and stretch for miles through heavily populated suburban areas. They were intended to be a temporary measure to protect people from violence during the troubles.

Local authorizes  will develop a phased plan on how to remove the barriers but the First Minister promised the bulldozers would not be moving in immediately.

The move is part of an effort to ease tensions following ongoing Union Jack flag protests and related violence in Belfast in recent months.

Watch this report below on Belfast’s peace walls.