Belfast

BY JAMES KING

To truly understand The Troubles in Ireland, you have to go to Belfast. Every corner of the city reveals the painful scars left by decades of violence. Every person has a story.

On our visit the rain and gray sky may have shaped some of my impression of Belfast, but seeing a 40-foot wall dividing a city, no matter the meteorological backdrop, tells anyone who sees it just how tense life must be.

Both sides of the wall look remarkably similar—murals dedicated to fallen comrades, and graffiti calling for either peace or war. These visual reminders reflect just how similar the people fighting actually are.

What I took away from Belfast is that the people aren’t fighting over religion or territory or some war that’s been simmering for 300 years. They’re fighting out of anger, pain and revenge over a father who died five years ago, or a brother who died ten years ago. Religion is just a badge these people who are hurting will wear to give their pain some legitimacy.

As a journalist, I think we had a fairly good taste of hearing only one side of the story as we toured the city. Our driver, who we can only assume was a Catholic, showed us the city, but it was clear that some things were left out, causing me and others in the car to quietly smirk at each other as our guide zipped us through the Protestant part of town. It’s important to recognize bias though, and while sometimes it’s not as apparent as it was in Belfast, I was glad I could pick it out.

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