Belfast Unrest

26 Oct

Prior to my weekend trip to Northern Ireland I felt ignorant regarding the controversy between Ireland and Northern Ireland. All I knew was that these two areas do not get along. After visiting Belfast I gained a stronger understanding of this issue.

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I found it interesting that our tour guides were directly involved in the crisis between Northern Ireland and Ireland. One guide was a Loyalist and the other was a Nationalist. Both men spent years in jail due to the violence and unrest that is part of Northern Ireland’s recent history. On this tour I gained insight into the views of both sides of this debate. I learned that the Catholic Nationalists want this area to be united with the Republic of Ireland while the Protestant Loyalists want the area to be part of the United Kingdom. As I traveled through the city of Belfast everything felt eerie (not just because of the rain). I felt the tension in the air as this controversy became very real to me.

 

Although I found this tour informative, I was quite upset with a few aspects of the tour. First, I felt that we were treated like tourists. I understand that we may look and act like tourists at times, but we are not. I came to Northern Ireland to learn about the true controversy of the territory. It was clear that the tour guides stuck to what they were told to tell tourists in order to make them come back to Belfast. We were told that this debate was settled. However it is clear that this is not the case considering about 5 months ago in May 2013 “Together: Building a United Community strategy (Sergie, 2013)” was created. In addition this past summer was Belfast’s “worst year of rioting for a decade (Humphries, 2013)”. There is still violence regarding this issue and I believe that tourists and especially study abroad students should not receive a candy-coated story regarding this debate.

 

Bibliography

Humphries, C. (2013, October 16). As Belfast riots, Northern Ireland’s second city tastes peace. [Online].   Available http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/10/16/ uk-irish-londonderry-idUKBRE99F04B20131016 [27 October 2013]

 

Sergie, M. (2013, October 3). The Northern Ireland peace process. [Online]. Available   http://www.cfr.org/peace-conflict-and-human-rights/northern-ireland-  peace-process/p31552 [27 October 2013]

 

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