Short Strand

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Coordinates: 54°35′53″N 5°54′34″W / 54.59805°N 5.90936°W / 54.59805; -5.90936

An Irish nationalist mural on Beechfield Street in Short Strand, showing British troops leaving Ireland and wishing them Slán Abhaile
An entrance to Short Strand

The Short Strand (Irish: an Trá Ghearr) is a working class, inner city area of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is a mainly Catholic and Irish nationalist enclave surrounded by the mainly Protestant and unionist East Belfast.[1][2][3][4] It is on the east bank of the River Lagan in the townland of Ballymacarret, which is part of County Down. The borders of the Short Strand are Albertbridge Road (to the south), Short Strand Road (to the west), Newtownards Road (to the north) and Bryson Street/Clandeboye Gardens (to the east). At the Short Strand's northeast corner is St Matthew's Catholic church.

For decades, Protestants and Catholics have regularly clashed at the edges of the Short Strand. This has led to fierce rioting and, occasionally, gun battles. Much of the Short Strand is surrounded by peace lines.


19th century[edit]

In the 19th century, many Catholics moved from County Down to the area.[5] Despite living close to the shipyard, they were mostly excluded from working there.[5]

The Troubles[edit]

The ethno-political conflict known as The Troubles began in 1969. In the early years of the Troubles, Catholics in Short Strand numbered about 6,000, while their Protestant neighbours totalled about 60,000.[6] The area was the scene of much violence; including rioting and attacks by both Irish republican and loyalist paramilitaries. On 27 June 1970, the Provisional IRA fought a lengthy gun battle with loyalist militants around St Matthew's church. Three people were killed. This was the Provisional IRA's first major action and became known as the Battle of St Matthew's.

Throughout the Troubles there was a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base in the Short Strand. It was heavily fortified due to bomb and gun attacks by the IRA. It was shut in 2010 and demolished in February 2011.

21st century[edit]

In June 2002, there was major rioting between rival republican and loyalist crowds, numbering over 1,000, and prolonged exchanges of gunfire between the rival paramilitaries. See 2002 Short Strand clashes.

On 20 June 2011, a group of 60 to 100 men were reported to be attacking peoples' homes.[7] There were reports of injuries, as well as homes being damaged and petrol bombs being thrown.[7] Two men were reported to have been shot.[8] Fighting had started at an interface area between Mountpottinger Road and the lower Newtownards road.[8] Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum of the PSNI said that the violence had been orchestrated by the UVF.[9] Two men were shot, and eleven shots were fired.[9] A press photographer was shot on the second night of riots, with the PSNI blaming dissident Republicans.[10][11] Assistant Chief Constable Alastair Finlay said that there was no sign that the UVF intended to finish the rioting.[10]

In 2015, the area again made headlines when members of the Provisional IRA were blamed for the murder of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan, who was shot dead outside his home in the Short Strand in retaliation for the murder three months earlier of senior IRA member Gerard 'Jock' Davison.

Popular culture[edit]


  • Much of the film The Outsider (1980) is set in the Short Strand.


  • The Short Strand, and St Matthew's Church in particular, are settings for season 3 of the television show Sons of Anarchy.


  1. ^ English, Richard (2004). Armed struggle: the history of the IRA. Oxford University Press US. pp. 134–135.
  2. ^ Shanahan, Timothy (2009). The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the morality of terrorism. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 24–25.
  3. ^ Liam Clarke (24 May 2009). "'Loyalist victim' was shot by IRA crossfire". The Times. London. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  4. ^ David McKittrick (5 June 2002). "Reid talks to republican and loyalist leaders in bid to stop Belfast rioting". The Independent. London. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  5. ^ a b Spackman, Conor (21 June 2011). "East Belfast interface: a familiar pattern continues". BBC News. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  6. ^ White, Robert William (1993). Provisional Irish republicans: an oral and interpretive history. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 80.
  7. ^ a b "Sectarian trouble flares at east Belfast's Short Strand". BBC News. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Short Strand: Two men shot during east Belfast rioting". BBC News. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Short Strand: Police say riot was 'orchestrated' by UVF". BBC News. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  10. ^ a b "UVF blamed after second night of Belfast disturbances". The Irish Times. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Police say dissidents behind photographer shooting". BBC News. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011.