Authenticity and stakeholder planning in the segregated city

Brendan Murtagh, Brian Graham, Peter Shirlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is concerned with the production and reproduction of segregation in Northern Ireland and how territoriality has impacted on the Protestant community in Derry/Londonderry. The city was pivotal in the development of the most recent conflict, has a majority Catholic population, sits on a contested border and has attempted to respond to expressions of alienation that have emerged from the Protestant community. The research used multiple methods to understand the nature of alienation and exclusion using secondary data, a quantitative household survey, in-depth interviews and focus
groups. This empirical commitment was important in identifying and unpacking the claims of various stakeholders with an interest in the use and development of the area. It is argued here that a version of Collaborative Planning provides a loosely articulated conceptual and methodological framework for drawing Protestant communities into the wider planning framework for the city. The data, however, suggest that the nature of stakeholders is complex and contradictory, and discursive practice that seeks consensus has limits, especially in validating or legitimating the assertions of self-acclaimed stakeholders. The research shows that the Protestant community had declined and residualised but had little experience of direct conflict with the majority community. Moreover, the Protestant community is now more likely to use the city centre (a predominantly Catholic space) for consumption and work, and its demographic decline has stopped. These findings are important as policy responses and community relations programmes have failed to distinguish between measurable socioeconomic needs and claims concerning ethnic alienation based on emotion and manipulation. Such alienation has tended to bolster single identity communities who have little or no prospect and/or knowledge of the collaborative efforts required to deliver meaningful regeneration. More realistic strategies based on agonism focus attention on power relations and the authenticity of positions adopted by competing interests in land use management and change. The paper concludes by highlighting the need to acknowledge and value contestation but to challenge sectarian discourses represented as legitimate claims about community needs and priorities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-92
Number of pages52
JournalProgress in Planning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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