Short Strand

Short Strand

The Short Strand (Irish: "An Trá Ghearr" ) is a predominantly nationalist housing estate in East Belfast with a population of around 3,000 within a much larger unionist area of about 60,000 centered around the lower Newtownards Road.

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Rioting between neighbouring Loyalist and Republican factions has been a feature of the area's recent past. The introduction of CCTV in the area, and in other similar places in the city, has had a positive effect with a drastic reduction in incidents there, and throughout Belfast. The neighbouring districts are unionist areas to the east and to the south, the area to the north is an industrial area and to the west is the River Lagan spanned by the Albert Bridge and leading to the Nationalist/Republican Markets area.

There is currently a peace line on its northern edge, separating unionist Cluan Place and nationalist Madrid Street.

On Mountpottinger Road, which traverses it, there is a Police Service of Northern Ireland station with fortifications made necessary during the troubles because of bomb and gun attacks against security force members from Republican paramilitaries. These barriers date from the days of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.


During the early years of The Troubles the area was the scene of many violent events. In particular the Provisional IRA fought its first major action there on 27 June 1970, when a group of PIRA men led by Billy McKee fought a gun battle of several hours with loyalist paramilitaries. Three Protestants and one IRA volunteer were killed and many others were injured by gunfire. Irish Republicans claim that they were defending St Matthew's Church and the Short Strand in general, from loyalist attack. Republicans remember the incident as the, 'Battle of St Matthews'. The local Protestant community maintains that the IRA fired on unarmed Orange Order members who were returning from a parade, killing three and triggering the ensuing gun battles but a British Army Major dismissed the loyalist claims insisting the loyalists attacked the Army, and when they withdrew, attacked the Short Strand which was left defenceless. [] .

Short Strand is in the area of the Third Battalion of the IRA's Belfast Brigade.

Many loyalists avoid the area due to fear of attack, although bus service Metro 5A runs through Mountpottinger en route to Braniel, home of loyalist Michael Stone who committed the 1988 Milltown Cemetery attack.

As recently as June 2002, there was major rioting between rival republican and loyalist crowds, numbering over 1000, and prolonged exchanges of gunfire between the rival paramilitaries. The confrontation was triggered by a row over the loyalists erecting bunting to celebrate the Jubilee year of Queen Elizabeth II.

Robert McCartney, a nationalist stabbed to death by ex-members of the Provisional IRA in 2005, was from the Short Strand area.

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