Thursday, 1 November 2007

PostHeaderIcon Photos: West Belfast

I am sat writing this in Belfast City airport on my mobile phone with a pint of Smithwicks Ale and a sausage roll in front of me. I have another hour before my flight and have to waste it somehow! As someone recently commented to me "that's true ├╝ber connectivity!"

I'm in Belfast installing network equipment at our NI office and as things went like clockwork yesterday afternoon I had a couple of hours to kill before getting to the airport today. So I thought I'd do the touristy thing again, last time I had enough spare time to go to Giants Causeway, this time with only 2 or 3 hours I had to do something in the city and so decided to have a look around West Belfast in the infamous Falls Road and Shankhill Road area.

This district and others across Belfast are probably like no other place in the UK. The history of the area needs no explanation to anyone, along the Falls Road you have a heartland of the Irish Republican movement and running parallel to it is the Shankhill a heartland for the Unionists. And dividing the two is the so called 'peace line' a monstrosity of concrete and steel that keeps the two communities apart. At the couple of places where roads pass through the wall there are large gates which still today sometimes get shut during periods of heightened tension. Today the wall is nothing more than a tourist attraction with a steady stream of taxis and tour buses bringing people to write there cheesy messages of peace on it.

Personally I think it should be ripped down as it's such an eyesore and symbol of segregation but apparently it gets half a million visitors a year and so someone somewhere is probably counting the money from all those people and thinking it'll cost so much to remove when it's generating so much income. I think that is really sad, whilst it is poignant reminder of recent history and something that will move even the hardest of men it is still a monstrosity, imagine having to live in one of the houses opposite it. And anyway there's loads more to keep the tourists occupied.

There's also all the murals which are on the sides of buildings around almost every corner. There's never any question as to which part of the city you're in, nationalist or loyalist as the murals make it quite clear.

Something I found quite amusing but really only goes to highlight the obsessiveness of the residents was the way in which on the Shankhill side where you had street name plaques on the sides of buildings they had placed additional plaques underneath saying 'Ulster', what's the point really?

I took a few photos with the crap camera in my mobile phone, so the quality isn't that good:


belfastcity airport said...

very nice. I am really happy when i read your article.
its" full of information.

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