This article needs additional citations for verification . (September 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Rathcoole (from Irish Ráth Cúile 'corner/nook of the ringfort or Fort of Coole') is a housing estate in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It was built in the 1950s to house many of those displaced by the demolition of inner city housing in Belfast city. Rathcoole is within the wider Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough. Its approximate borders are provided by O'Neill Road on the north, Doagh Road on the east, Shore Road on the south and Church Road and Merville Garden Village on the west.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source . (August 2016)
In the 1940s and 1950s, a number of new large-scale housing schemes were planned for Northern Ireland including Craigavon and Rathcoole.
These plans were informed by attempts by successive UK governments and the local parliament at Stormont to use large-scale social engineering to reduce underlying sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland. In common with other such areas, Rathcoole's design included self-contained facilities such as a cinema, youth centre, a shopping centre and schools. In spite of these planned facilities, they were insufficient for a population that grew rapidly to over 10000. The cinema was shut down and a taxi service took over the west wing of the building; the building was eventually demolished and a new 'bar' was built on its grounds; the taxi service moved to the Diamond. Other housing developments were built nearby: Rushpark, Rathfern and Bawnmore, all three constructed by the Northern Ireland Housing Trust, forerunner of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Other estates in the district included Merville Garden Village and Fernagh, which were developed privately by Ulster Garden Villages Limited. Since 1 April 1958, Rathcoole and the above estates have been an integral part of Newtownabbey, the first town in Ireland's history to be constituted by an Act of Parliament at Westminster. By 1977, Newtownabbey was given 'borough' status.
A prominent feature of the community is its Protestant churches. In the original design, a local council bye-law prohibited premises selling alcohol within the bounds of the estate.[ citation needed ] In the early decades, most of the commerce in the area was dominated by nearby Belfast, easily accessible by bus and public taxi services. Since the late 1970s, local shopping opportunities have been developed on what was a largely green field site centred around the Abbeycentre which has grown rapidly with the addition of many satellite trading centres including large DIY stores and most of the major UK high street retailers.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source . (May 2016)
Towards the end of the 1960s, civil unrest in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles brought about sectarian conflict after a period of reducing community antagonism. A feature of the early Troubles was a form of what in later conflicts would be classed as ethnic cleansing. With some exceptions in Northern Ireland this was carried out largely on the basis of implied threats rather than outright aggression. Rathcoole became a new home to many Protestants displaced from Belfast.
From 1969-73 a common sight on the streets of urban working class areas of Northern Ireland was parties of people moving furniture either by hand or any vehicle they could borrow. At this time that the Northern Ireland Housing Executive came into being in response to accusations that councils responsible for allocating public housing were using allocation as a means of favouring their own. Community vigilante groups acted as gatekeepers to such population exchanges in public housing areas. In the early 1970s police were briefly excluded from the area by the Rathcoole Defence Association (RDA), a move that reflected a wider pattern in Northern Ireland.
Resource-starved authorities could do little but stand by and re-allocate housing on the basis of squatters becoming accepted as sitting tenants. In Rathcoole this was estimated at between 200 and 250 families in mid-1972. Many Catholic families were forced out of Rathcoole to the Irish republican Twinbrook estate in Belfast to be replaced by similarly displaced Protestant families from other areas. The estate was the scene of several sectarian murders and other violent crimes during the conflict. At around this time many young disaffected young men became associated with the loyalist Tartan Gang in the estate named The Rathcoole KAI, the initials reportedly standing for Kill All Irish.
The decline of the gangs coincided with the sudden success of The Bay City Rollers. In subsequent years at times of wider community stress in Northern Ireland sporadic rioting with security forces has occasionally occurred within the estate but not to the extent witnessed in urban areas of Belfast and Derry and the community has enjoyed long periods of calm. In October 2010 there was serious rioting in the area linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force and resulted in Translink suspending their services in the area for a period of time after some of their buses were hijacked and set on fire. Police also claimed a gunman from the UVF was sighted at the scene of the rioting. The unrest was believed to be a reaction to police raids in Rathcoole.
This section does not cite any sources . (May 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Diamond shopping centre suffered from a lack of investment and substantial decline in its environment throughout the 1960s and 1970s and was in need of extensive renovation and reconstruction. Part of this reconstruction led to the building of a large new branch library in the late 1970s. Meanwhile, the estate's other shopping area near Rathcoole Secondary School was declared derelict and demolished. Following an extensive fire and a period of dereliction, the reconstructed Alpha Cinema became the East Way Social Club, a loyalist members only working men's club.
This section does not cite any sources . (June 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Over the years the estate has been served by quite a number of schools within its boundaries. The primary sector included the state controlled Rathcoole Primary, Abbot's Cross Primary and nearby Whitehouse Primary schools. The Catholic Maintained sector was served by Stella Maris Primary school. As the post–World War II baby boom generation grew older, school populations declined rapidly in the area, and in the 1980s and 1990s, Stella Maris Primary and Secondary Schools and Rathcoole Secondary School (state-controlled) were closed. The Stella Maris site has now been redeveloped as a retail park as part of the larger Abbeycentre trading area. In an attempt to increase the mixture of housing tenure types in the estate the Rathcoole Secondary site has now been redeveloped into privately owned housing.
State controlled sector education is now the only form of education facility in the estate with the three primary schools still going strong whilst secondary education was concentrated on the old Hopefield site, remodelled and extended as Newtownabbey Community High School until it closed in 2017 as part of a merger with Monkstown Community School to form Abbey Community College at the Monkstown site. Children requiring grammar school education need to travel further to facilities such as Belfast High School, Belfast Royal Academy Ballyclare High School and Carrickfergus Grammar School
This section needs additional citations for verification . (April 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The dominant political tradition in the area is Unionism with strong showing in successive elections by the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party. Alongside mainstream Unionists many independent Unionist and Loyalist politicians have represented the area at all levels of local government. In the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement parties associated with Loyalist paramilitary groupings such as the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) enjoyed some success in the area with the PUP's more left wing working class analysis appealing to the area's largely working class population. Alongside loyalism, the estate also had a long Labour tradition.
Between 1973 and 2001, the area returned at least one Labour councillor in every local government election.This party was refused affiliation by the British Labour Party, which instead maintained its endorsement of the largely Roman Catholic Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) in Northern Ireland.
During the 1990s, with hopes for change in the political climate in Northern Ireland and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, change was also apparent in the estate. Funded by investment from the New Labour UK government, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive demolished some of its housing stock in the area including the hastily built 'banana flats' (maisonette style housing) which was afflicted with many of the sort of structural and social problems associated with high density community living commonplace in Glasgow's infamous tenements. They also renovated some of its out of date housing, providing items now taken for granted such as gas heating. The Diamond shopping area was extensively remodelled, creating more open space. New football pitches and changing areas were provided, and opened by The Princess Anne.
Past UDA brigadiers in the area have included Joe English and John "Grugg" Gregg.
Rathfern Rangers of the Northern Amateur Football League play their home games at the Diamond on Ardmillan Drive in Rathcoole.Rathcoole F.C. of the Ballymena & Provincial League also play at the ground, which features two pitches. The 1st Newtownabbey Linfield Supporters Club is also based on the estate for fans of the IFA Premiership club.
The Valley Leisure Centre was opened in 1977, followed by an astroturf in 1991.
The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) is a small unionist political party in Northern Ireland. It was formed from the Independent Unionist Group operating in the Shankill area of Belfast, becoming the PUP in 1979. Linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC), for a time it described itself as "the only left of centre unionist party" in Northern Ireland, with its main support base in the loyalist working class communities of Belfast.
Newtownabbey Borough Council was a Local Authority in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, on the north shore of Belfast Lough just immediately north of Belfast. The Council merged with Antrim Borough Council in April 2015 under local government reform in Northern Ireland to form Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
The New Lodge is an urban, working class Catholic community in Belfast, Northern Ireland, immediately to the north of the city centre. The landscape is dominated by several large tower blocks. The area has a number of murals, mostly sited along the New Lodge Road. The locality is demarcated by Duncairn Gardens, Antrim Road, Clifton Street, and dependent on opinion, York Street or North Queen Street. North Queen Street and Duncairn Gardens have often seen rioting between republicans and loyalists. The New Lodge is also an electoral ward of Belfast City Council.
Belfast North is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons. The current MP is John Finucane of Sinn Féin.
The Shankill Road is one of the main roads leading through west Belfast, in Northern Ireland. It runs through the working-class, predominantly loyalist, area known as the Shankill.
Merville Garden Village is a housing estate located at Shore Road, Whitehouse, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, Northern Ireland created by structural and landscape architect Edward Prentice Mawson. It was completed in 1949.
Newtownabbey is a large settlement north of Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Sometimes considered to be a suburb of Belfast, it is separated from the rest of the city by Cavehill and Fortwilliam golf course. At the 2011 Census, Metropolitan Newtownabbey Settlement had a population of 65,646, making it the third largest settlement in Northern Ireland. It is part of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
The Whitewell Road is an interface area in north Belfast and Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, and historically the site of occasional clashes between nationalists and loyalists. The Whitewell Road and the surrounding area is a residential community in the Greencastle parish. The Whitewell area is considered a working class area. For much of its length the Whitwell Road runs parallel to the M2 and also provides a direct link between the A2 and the A6.
Whiteabbey is a townland in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Cregagh is an area southeast of Belfast in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the name of a townland and has been adopted as the name of an electoral ward of Belfast City council. The townland dates back to medieval times, when it was part of the territory held by the O'Neills of Clannaboy. The area is centred on the Cregagh Road. The Woodstock/Cregagh Road is a continuous arterial route in the city, with the Woodstock making up the lower half of the route and the Cregagh the upper half. It runs from the Albertbridge Road, close to the Short Strand, to the A55 Outer Ring road.
Murals in Northern Ireland have become symbols of Northern Ireland, depicting the region's past and present political and religious divisions.
Mark Langhammer is a Northern Irish trade unionist, employed as Director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and elected onto the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in 2008, being re-elected in 2010. A former politician in Northern Ireland, he was previously a prominent northern-based member of the Irish Labour Party.
Tommy Kirkham is a Northern Ireland loyalist political figure and former councillor. Beginning his political career with the Democratic Unionist Party, he was then associated with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Political Research Group although he has since been expelled from both groups. He was a former deputy mayor of Newtownabbey and sat on Newtownabbey Borough Council as an Independent Loyalist.
Interface area is the name given in Northern Ireland to areas where segregated nationalist and unionist residential areas meet. They have been defined as "the intersection of segregated and polarised working class residential zones, in areas with a strong link between territory and ethno-political identity".
The Shore Road is a major arterial route and area of housing and commerce that runs through north Belfast and Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland. It forms part of the A2 road, a traffic route which links Belfast to the County Antrim coast.
The Antrim Road is a major arterial route and area of housing and commerce that runs from inner city north Belfast to Dunadry, passing through Newtownabbey and Templepatrick. It forms part of the A6 road, a traffic route which links Belfast to Derry. It passes through the New Lodge, Newington and Glengormley areas of Northern Ireland amongst others.
Thomas English, usually known as Tommy English, was an Ulster loyalist paramilitary and politician. He served as a commander in the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and was killed by members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as part of a violent loyalist feud between the two organisations. English had also been noted as a leading figure in the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) during the early years of the Northern Ireland peace process.
Raymond Irvine McCord is a victims rights campaigner from Northern Ireland. McCord became involved in the issue of victims rights after his son, Raymond McCord Jr., was killed by the loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in 1997. He is an outspoken critic of the UVF.
On 3 December 2012, Belfast City Council voted to limit the days that the Union Flag flies from Belfast City Hall. Since 1906, the flag had been flown every day of the year. This was changed to no more than 18 days a year, which is in line with British government guidelines regarding government buildings. The move to limit the number of days was backed by the council's Irish nationalists and the Alliance Party; it was opposed by the unionist councillors.