A City Divided

23 Oct

This past weekend we visited Northern Ireland. My godparents live in Belfast and I had visited them a few times before. But the Northern Ireland I visited on this trip was completely different from the one I was used to. When I was younger, my family shielded me from the extreme past of the North, so I had no idea what I was getting into when I stepped off the bus. Walking the streets where so many lives were taken and listening to the stories of the people who lived through it, I realized just how horrible these events were. You could still feel the tension in the air as we walked through the two different areas of West Belfast. A group of guys in a car yelled curse words at us as we stood outside the Sinn Fenn office. We signed the peace wall, the wall designed to protect but just as easily stands as a reminder of the conflict to the people of Belfast. It was awful to see how many innocent lives were taken. Both sides’ radical groups inflicted a lot of damage and took a lot of lives. Many people asked me this weekend my take on the fighting. I didn’t know what to say, I was just learning all this information. I couldn’t defend either side and I definitely wasn’t going to defend mine. Just because I lived in England, does not mean I agree with the actions taken by the unionist party. Our loyalist tour guide took us to the location where he witnessed a bombing and pulled bodies from the rubble. He saw a little girl, her parents and countless others lose their lives that day. I couldn’t even begin to imagine being in his shoes and living through something so terrible. History is a lot more impactful when you walk the same streets and listen to the survivors. Hopefully we get to see the day where a gate doesn’t have to be locked every night between the two communities to ensure peace.

-Clara Cutbill

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