The Divide – By Alex Martinez

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I have walked around and explored Belfast for six days now. I have seen the city parts and I have seen some of the neighborhoods. Yet, it wasn’t until today that I realized a big divide took place here. During the Black Cab Tour, things became clearer. Northern Ireland is strictly divided between Protestants and Catholics. And this isn’t just a metaphorical “divide”, it is a visible one.

Protestant Painting
A painting on a side of a Protestant home.

The tour went over both sides of living and why they were at odds. The Protestant people consider themselves British and are at peace with having their home a part of the United Kingdom. As where the Catholics, see themselves as Irish. Both neighborhoods have multiple paintings on the sides of homes that represent their people. Seeing these paintings and reading the messages within them really put things into perspective. These paintings are like advertisements of each sides struggles, beliefs, and their fallen heroes. These artistic displays are representations of this candid division.

Painting Number Two
Painting in the Catholic neighborhood.

Being a tourist and just simply walking around, I never would have realized that the separation existed to this extent. I knew that there were people angry about the separation of Northern Ireland, but I personally haven’t seen any real advertisement/news of how visibly separated the two sides are. There are actual gates and a wall that divide the two and I remember seeing them before the tour and thinking nothing of it.

Quote from the Wall
“Don’t let the muggles get you down!”

Seeing a huge wall splitting both sides was an eye-opening moment for me. Our tour guide pointed out burn marks and rocks/material stuck at the top of the wall. He said that they were from people trying to throw things over the other side. He mentioned that now it is mainly children who attempt to throw things over. The entire wall is now covered in signatures and quotes from people all around the world. I saw a lot of quotes begging for peace and humanity. After the tour, I am now more aware of the conflict and I hope for peace and unity in Northern Ireland.

 

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