Divis Flats, by Judah Passow

Judah Passow


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This story begins on a Saturday night in 1982 in the Observer newsroom in London. I grabbed a report by the European Union looking into the standards of public housing in Europe. The report named Belfast’s Divis Flats as the worst housing in Europe.

‘In my time there, I came to see Divis as a sort of metaphor, as a smaller, local version of a larger, disturbing world – as a war zone, as a place of material poverty and social deprivation.

But I think what surprised me most was discovering how some residents were fighting back, how they were determined not to allow their spirit to be brutalised by an ill-conceived bureaucratic plan designed to solve their problems but which, in fact, only made them worse. What surprised me most was watching how they were struggling to maintain their dignity, their sanity, and ultimately their humanity.’

Judah Passow



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