As I wrote my previous post about overseas holidays, tourism etc. it crossed my mind’s eye to write a piece about one of the lesser known; or rather less-well-publicised, areas of the British Isles, especially from a tourist perspective. I refer of course to the delightful City of Belfast, Capital of the fabled land across the water; otherwise titled the Province of Northern Ireland.
As we sit in our homes; in the villages, towns and cities of Wales and England, planning our lives in serenity, peace and comfort; not many people realise that certain differences exist in the planning regulations for people whose homes are on even two sides of the same back garden lane in that strange twisted City, filled with strange, mentally twisted people, in that strange, weirdly beautiful but sadly scarred Province called Northern Ireland.
For example, did you know that allowances must be made, when alterations or extensions to a house are planned, for the extra reinforced fencing which must be in place when the building work is completed; mainly because, if the fencing and added protection is missing, the house might well well be the target of a firebomb, pipe bomb or a rocket? Why the possible attacks? “Sure,” the owner might reply, “because my home abuts a ‘Peace Wall’, and there ain’t much ‘Peace’ around if it is not backed up with a thirty-foot high reinforced fence.”
This is the British City where, just fourteen years ago, parents and children had to literally run a gauntlet of spitting, jeering Loyalist gangs in order to gain access to their Primary School. Imagine, little girls sworn at, bullied and spat at, with rocks bouncing off the police vans brought hastily in to protect the little Catholic girls and their terrified parents as they ventured to walk in an area which was long termed ‘Ours’ by the Loyalist scum surrounding them: because they simply wanted to go to school.
The politicians from both sides of the Northern Irish divide might preen and smirk in front of the cameras, and the prancing from the murderous godfathers who sit for SinnFeinIRA is met by the equally lunatic dancing from the Unionist DUP and UUP politicians, spokespeople for the UVF and UDA gangsters, and you don’t hear too much condemnation of the ‘Walls’ from either side, mainly because the realists know that, ungainly the solution might be, at least it works, with the morons from either side prevented from easy access to the other, and are thus prevented from charging off the reservation, and causing mayhem amongst their enemies; who live just across the street.
So take the tour, ‘click’ on the thumbnails, and gaze in silent horror at the ‘Walls’, and then decide for yourself if you reckon the ‘Peace Process’ is spelled correctly, or is it just another political fudge with an uncertain sell-by date!