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Usually, no one takes any notice, but last week one symbolic little exodus caught the attention of Radio 4's Today programme: the departure of the last 10 Protestant families from the Torrens estate in north Belfast.Eight years ago, there were more than 100 Protestant families in the estate. Torrens was a small Protestant, unionist enclave within a largely Catholic, nationalist area, and its inhabitants were thus particularly vulnerable to the hail of sectarian taunts and petrol bombs that so often passes for neighbourly relations in Northern Ireland.

Britain's television news bulletins have been dominated by pictures of a North Belfast mob hurling abuse at sobbing five-year-old Catholic girls on their first day at school.As well as the claims of the Adventurers, the commissioners were also to grant land to disbanded Parliamentarian soldiers who had been promised Irish land in lieu of arrears of pay.The Commonwealth government envisaged a large-scale redistribution of land in Ireland, with Catholics and native Irish making way for Protestant settlers and landlords.Ardoyne has seen some of Northern Ireland's nastiest episodes.It was here that sectarian clashes launched the house-burning and riots which triggered the past 30 years of conflict.

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