The two sides of the civil war aren’t necessarily the Unionists and the Nationalists. In my opinion it was the people who wanted violence against the innocent people that wanted peace. Nonetheless everyone was involved. When I started on the tour in Derry, I only knew that there had been massacres on Catholic and Protestant sides when William II took over for James II because he was a protestant king. I had no idea how serious the political unrest that continued into the 60’s had been. As we walked through the streets we learned about the protests of the Catholics/Nationalists for their civil rights, and we quickly learned about the 19 innocent people that had died during a protest. As we saw the murals spread throughout the town we realized that amongst the people that had been killed were multiple children. The Unionists felt justified with these deaths while the Nationalists knew that innocent people had been killed. At this point I was completely on the Nationalists side. I thought of the Unionists as being these harsh and heartless people that simply wanted their way and were willing to kill innocent Nationalists to get it. Then I went on the tour in Belfast with the political prisoners.
We went on one tour with a Nationalist who showed us all of the murals of the people that had died, particularly Bobby Sands, the first man to die in the hunger strike. We saw the Irish flag everywhere, and banners with the message “End British internment of Irish citizens”. Belfast however was different from Derry in the way that we heard more about violent actions that the Catholics went through to get their point across. Our Catholic tour guide discussed how he had petrol that he brought with him to hurt the Unionists. This was not the peaceful protest we had heard of in Derry. We then went on a tour with a Unionist political prisoner and he told us of all the Protestants and Catholics had done to kill a large fraction of those living in his town. We learned that 9 people had died in a bombing of a Protestant fish shop. We learned of Protestants that had attempted to kill every member of Sein Finn and were awarded with a mural in the streets. The peace wall in his opinion was for separation and what Northern Ireland needed was integration. He believed that the violence was unwanted yet it seemed to be continuous. Most Northern Irish people simply want peace and to be able to live their lives without fear.-Emma Boardman