Instigated by the Belfast Corporation (now Belfast City Council) to redevelop much of the Falls Road area, the aim was to create new houses for local people who had been living in very poor conditions.
The complex was developed on an area known locally as the Pound Loney. It is named after nearby Divis Mountain and was made up of 850 flats, housing 2,400 residents. This 61 metres / 200 ft high, 20 storey tower block is all that is left of the Divis Flat Complex, which consisted of an additional 12 blocks, each eight stories high.
Divis Tower was a significant flashpoint during the summer of 1969, a period widely viewed as the start of the conflict, known as ‘the Troubles’. There had been political and sectarian unrest throughout the late 1960s as Catholics began to campaign for civil rights, to end religious discrimination in jobs, housing and voting rights.
In Belfast, loyalists in opposition to these demonstrations by the nationalist minority, raided nationalist areas. Subsequently the British Government deployed the British Army onto the Falls Road in 1969, in an attempt to stem the escalating violence.
A resident of the flats, Jean McConville, was abducted and murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1972. Her body was not recovered until 2003. For further information READ.
From the 1970s until 2005, the top two floors of Divis Tower were occupied by the British Army, who used their position overlooking the Falls Road for surveillance of the local community. In 2009 these floors were reinstated as residential properties as part of £1.1 million refurbishment.
The plaque on the wall of Divis Tower is dedicated to two individuals killed in 1969.
Patrick Rooney was 9 years old when he was killed on 14th August by machine gun fire from a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured car. Violent clashes between RUC and republicans led to six more deaths the following day, including 20-year-old British Army soldier Hugh McCabe, who was on leave at Divis Flats.