Northern Ireland by Molly Starobin

22 Oct

I had heard of “the troubles.” I had heard of the tragedy. I had heard of the aggression. However, I never truly understood the passion and fervor of the people involved in the civil war until I arrived in Northern Ireland. Just minutes after crossing the border, I already saw the numerous flags we had talked about in class. It was crystal clear which area I was in, either unionist or nationalist, by the mass amount of British or Republic of Ireland flags. Still, it was not until we met the tour guides in Belfast that the true vigor of the participants of the civil war was shown to me. Our first tour guide was a nationalist, and from the second that he stepped foot on the bus there was no doubt that he was anything but a nationalist. He talked about all of the horrific actions that were committed by the unionists. But most of all, he talked about the disgust and almost pure hatred he had toward England. It was clear that this man wanted to be independent from England, he wanted Ireland to be united, and that no matter how long ago the war was, his passion had never dissipated. This nationalist was not happy with the peace agreement and he was not afraid to tell us of its “stupidity” in his opinion. There was a distinct difference between the nationalist and the unionist tour guides that we had. It seemed as if the nationalist was much more heated about the situation and blamed the unionists and Britain for all of the troubles. However, the unionist was very passionate and upset about the walls all around the city of Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland. He discussed how it was nearly impossible for a Protestant child and a Christian child to be friends. He also stated how it was extremely unfortunate that even though Northern Ireland is technically in peace, it does not seem so, the divide is still very apparent and it is unlikely that it will change anytime soon. It was really nice that both tour guides representing the two fighting sides wanted integration. They were done with the separation of the two different religions and they accepted that religion does not dictate whether a person is good or bad. These two bus tours, where we heard the two dissenting opinions of people involved in the civil war of the Northern Ireland, made me truly see the light at the end of the tunnel. People may still be bitter about the conflict, but both sides want to be happy and they want true peace in Northern Ireland and what is best for their people.

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